Edges, Strokes, Temperatures and more

“Bonsai Experiment”

oil on primed hardboard, 9″ x 12″
Usually, I carefully draw my still lifes before painting them. I have always had a burr under my saddle for this because it seems very much like “coloring book” activity when I am painting.
And it is! So, enough of that, already! I am changing that right now!
After yesterday, three big words were banging around in my head this morining: EDGES. STROKES. TEMPERATURE.
Okay. So that’s how the teacher put it out there yesterday. That doesn’t mean I am to copy his methods or the way he paints. I went there yesterday with big questions in my mind about those three things and got way more than I bargained for.
While this painting is sloppy in places, I was attempting a ton of new stuff all at once: If I was to paint a cool passage, I painted it warm first, then went over it with the cool color . . .which sets up a temperature vibration in the passage. (see the background in this piece).
Next, I realized this morning that I have not been using nearly enough paint on my palette or brush. Fixed thaaaaat!! 🙂
Next, when I touched the brush to the panel, I was thinking “which way, with what rhythm do I want these strokes to appear?” I don’t feel that I have this yet, but I do feel like there is a recognition and a gut feeling about it . . .and that is growing fast.
Finally, after a crit of six paintings yesterday, the comment was “Edges, edges, edges!!” And it was explained (I had never had and explanation before yesterday.) He was so right! So, I worked on those today, also. (After this writing, I will go back to the painting and fix a few . . .namely the one on the far right edge of the tall vase. Ugly! Sloppy!) And the one on the far left between the negative space and the box . . .it left a shape there I don’t like.
Here’s was I get from this practice piece: I am getting intermingling of colors that I adore! There is a huge improvement (and reason) of the edge work. I know where to look now! Also, instead of drawing with charcoal or paint first, I looked carfully at the shape and massed it in without line. I had done this with some drawing while in France and had not yet made the mental transer to my oil painting. DUH!! And, of course, letting the surface quality of the paint speak. This stuff is waaay more than making a pretty picture. This is about making paint look like PAINT not a tree or a vase or whatever. This is about making a piece of ART.
I may not be very good at it, YET. But I am determined to get there! More brush mileage! And more and more and more!

Red String

“Red String”
oil on wood panel, 6″ x 8″
Today was a continuation of yesterday . . .flat brights and smooth primed wood panel as a painting ground. I am finding I actually DO like the flat, square stroke marks given by the brights. The extra smooth surface allows visibility into everything the paint is doing on the surface . . .every swirl . . .which imparts a nice surface quality.
I am concerned that not only do I have to learn how to handle this medium better than I am, but now that I am becoming a little more facile with it, do I add more variables by stepping up the degree of unknowns, such as stroke history and surface textures?
As I look over my past paintings I notice that I seem to opt for circular subjects. As I am painting at the easel, I continually check for the appearance of the circles or elipses . . .and they appear to be okay. In the photo, I am surprised that they don’t seem to be the same as I saw them on the easel. I guess I am going to need to add another quality control step to verify shapes. Today, I am not sweating it because string balls tend to be lopsided anyway.
By the way, you might have noticed the new photo and format revisions here. That is my studio at the top of the blog. I am fortunate to have such a space. This photo was taken at last year’s open studio event. It hasn’t been this tidy since!!! I am now stepping over stuff and searching under piles for things. My paints and brushes and supplies are in good order, however. When I am focused on painting, all else takes a back seat. But now it’s time to tidy up for the October show. That is what I’ll be doing this weekend. Digging, scraping and polishing everything but canvas or paper.

Mental Conflict

“Confetti”
oil on primed hardboard, 12″ x 9″
Some time ago I made a promise to myself to open the doors to my studio and let anyone watch my painting process here on cyberspace. That also meant letting everyone who looked see my failures. Frankly, I don’t like it . . .showing my failures, that is. Who does? After all, I am a teacher. I am supposed to be the example, right? Well, I have decided to be just that. Be the example that people can follow and not look over their shoulder.
So, here you have it. I do show what I consider to be the poor ones . . . always have. And I will continue to do so. I think it shows those who are learning that failure, or mis-steps, or crummy results is not something only beginners have. Some of the best painters I know destroy as many, if not more than, as they put into galleries or sell. It’s just part of the game. No one likes that aspect, but it just is. And it particularly is if you experiment or try new things.
So, I tried a new type of ground on which to paint . . .to show the brush more . . .and agreed with myself to use ONLY a size 8 flat brush. The object was to remain loose and schmutz on the paint in places. Just to see what would happen. I used a subect I used earlier this week because I think it lent itself to the experiment. Petals and surfaces that splay all over the place. And many variations of one color combination . . .green and red. Again, I had fun. And I learned a little bit more . . . . .big chunks of light and dark and medium can be fooled with indefinetely until you ruin em. “Ruin” may not be the right word, but I can see a lot of places that I could take some serious direction from a master painter.