Playing Fast and Loose

“High Powered Guy”
Mixed Water-media 15 x 22 inches

I am in my workshop season right now. Between traveling and teaching, working and leading a large art society, painting time is preciously little. So, I have to hurry and grab every minute I can . . . and mow the lawn, weed the garden, tidy up the studio, cook occasionally etc. (you know the drill.)

While I am doing all this, my series of linemen is eating away at my thoughts. So, I am slamming paintings together quickly, mostly as trials and experiments to try out new, more simplified approaches, such as have been mentioned in the last few posts.
I want you, the reader, to see for yourself what happens when an artist is on to something and the trials we go through to get to some worthy art. Sure! I can copy photos in this series. I have over 300 pix that I can use, if i wanted to do that. I am much more interested in making a revelation or a statement rather than a report or copy. That is going to take a lot of trials and errors. Eventually, stuff will roll out and be consistent with my internal vision (which I cannot quite see yet). The ideas and trials are already showing me possible paths and approaches.
This painting was a bit of a struggle in the composition department . . . .that is where to put him and how to structure the perspective so that a feeling of being right there pervades the work. I am getting closer!
It took deleting the pole and placing it much further to the right along the margin and using the cross arm to integrate the figure to the rectangle of the painting. The use of the element of line (no pun) to show the wires and cables and some edges in the piece bring another level of excitement to the surface.
Again, mixed media: acrylic underpainting, watercolor, gouache and tempera were all used to provoke a sense of solidity and roughness in the piece. I am thinking this painting could set up a very serious piece. But I am off to teach another workshop in a few days. Maybe I will get to the serious work next month!!! I gotta hang in and keep painting to keep the flow going.

Opaque Media

“Stud Bucket”
mixed media 22 x 15 inches

“Spidermen”
mixed media 15 x 22 inches

In my search to simplify and still entertain the viewer with excitement in my paintings of Linemen, I have begun an approach using orange (or other color) stained watercolor paper as a beginning.

The paper is stained with a weak solution of acrylic paint and water. Once completely dry the paper can be painted over easily with watercolor . . . . .yes! It can! Because the acrylic soaks into the paper, the paper still accepts the transparent watercolor paint. This will make for some interesting surprises in the resultant color, that is for sure!
Then, by adding gouache to the process in certain places, the orange stain is covered completely because the medium is opaque. Using a random brush stroke strategy and letting the brush run out of pigment before recharging allows some of the orange to peek through. This has the effect of unifying the painting by having variants of that orange being the basis of all colors and values throughout the entire piece. Additionally, the surface has an exciting vibrating effect which is stimulating to the viewer.
In “Spidermen”, above, I used tempera instead of gouache. I was most deliberate to also be conscious of edges and line in that piece in order for line to be an interesting element in the painting. The white helmets are pure tempera over the orange paper. The helmets are much easier on the eye in person. (The photograph seems to emphasize the impasto effect here.)
Obviously, I am still playing with simplified shapes and flattening the picture space. I have a long way to go to get what I am after, but the chase is absolute funn!! After all, it is only paper I am wasting.
Oh! You think I am wasting time too? Nope! I would have gotten older whether or not I was painting. Not a waste at all! I am LEARNING !!!

Using Opaques with Watercolor

“Floodlight”
Watercolor, 22 x 15 inches

A few posts ago, I mentioned that I have been fooling around with opaques. Namely, I have been using gouache in addition to using the transparent pigments in the same painting. The opaques have been used separate from the transparents to provide a subtle contrast. For example, the tree in the foreground uses gouache in foliage. While this helps the foliage stand off the underlying colors and values, it also has the effect of making the tree advance in the space . . . .or seem as though it is standing freely in space.

In addition, the opaques are used in parts of the sky to lend the atmospheric effects and the effects of diffuse light. Obviously, there is much much more to learn with these pigments and the ideas are literally keeping me awake at night! That is the exciting part of being an artist! The newness never seems to wear off . . . . .there is excitement at every turn for me. Many of my blog readers know me and can vouch for my enthusiasm over painting. It seems just as boredom begins to lurk, some new idea comes up and springs me into action . . . .and then the energy kicks in and I am off and running to paint a bunch of new pieces.

The last several paintings on this blog have employed the use of opaques in a variety of places. Maybe you can see where. Or better yet, why not come by the studio this weekend to see, in person, the paintings. As you already know, it is open studio weekend join us!!!