Finding Balance

“Flotsam
Watercolor, 22 x 30 inches
This painting kept me challenged for the best part of 2 days. Admittedly, it gave me fits. The angst came from building the value contrast from left to right with the strong, dark reflection on the far right shore of this beach pond. The brilliant light on the left opposing that reflection on the right caused serious balance difficulties. The rivulets at the bottom of the painting took a few hours to design in order to lead the eye into the painting and provide an interesting abstraction. You wouldn’t believe how much eventually was scrubbed out of this piece in order to get it to behave . . .it may take me a few days before I actually decide if it is a show piece or not.

The far shore is what this piece is about. Every thing else in the painting is supposed to lead the eye to that point. Click on the painting to expand it so you can see what’s happening there. Hopefully, the monitor resolution is good enough to make out the color detail there. The stark value contrasts there and the edges keep the painting in balance (I hope!). It took nearly six different attempts and glazes to dial it in.

I have been on a tear to paint lately, since I have another show coming up, which has a theme of water flowing to the sea. So, I am painting big, strong pieces in hopes that a few will be show worthy. This is a welcome break from the web work on my website last week. If you haven’t seen the new site, check it out here.

Another Incubation / Reconciliation

“Misty Brilliance II”
Oil on canvas, 24″ x30″
Back in July, (scroll back to July 17 and 21), I attempted this painting, “reconciled” it, then set it aside. I wasn’t happy with a number of different aspects . . . . . .color being one of them. I had let the colors get merky from not wiping my brush often enough. Also, both of the July versions seemed broken up to me. Neither version flowed to a center of interest . . . and there was a perspective problem.
Beginning early this morning, I tackled it again . . .and this time I scored. The photo here is not quite how it looks. There are a few extra edges in the photo that don’t appear in the painting. Go figger dat!! The painting, however, has the brilliance I was after in the foreground and the spacial separation between the two bluffs. I am also pleased with the atmospheric sensation of the sun breaking through the fog. This time, it is going into a frame!
Never say die!!

INCUBATION

“Cottonwood Homestead
posted in July


“Cottonwood Homestead” Improved
oil on cavas, 16″ x 20″
INCUBATION

Have you ever done a painting, accepted it as done and went back a few weeks later to see it had **changed** ?

What are these mysterious gremlins at work on our paintings? Somehow, they manage to modify shapes, change the colors, put strokes in the paintings that I KNOW I never did. How does this happen.

Maybe I should pose these questions another way. Why was I so bloody blind when I was painting it? That is the real question!!

I have several paintings leaning against my easel which MUST be revised. I can see now what I could not see when I was painting them. It must be the incubation process. That is to say, like hens eggs, they must incubate quietly under warm conditions, then they hatch. Paintings have a similar character. We don’t really get to see them in the state they will be living until they have “incubated.” . . . . . .Or, been out of our vision for a period of time. . . . . How Long? . . . . . . . . Maybe as long as a year or more. Most times, though, it is usually a few weeks. Then I see the errors in color, shape, value, texture and direction. You can see in this painting of the poplars that it was rather blah. The sky was too yellow, the trees washed out, there wasn’t enough contrast of value, the color of the trees was wrong and they were leaning to the left. The more I looked at the painting, the more I itched to fix it.

So, here are the results, such as they are. I am much happier with the piece, but my mind’s vision is still a distance away from the outcome (that never changes, incidentally). As artists who are constantly looking for improvement in our work, I think our minds grow much faster than we realize. Perhaps that is why we can see the faults in our work in a matter of a few weeks.

Personally, I am very thankful for the constant change in my mental perspective. Incubation affords me to see the errors of my skills then consciously make improvements. How else does an artist grow?

A Reconciliation

“Ice Plant Droop” Reconciled
oil on stretched canvas, 24″ x 30″
This painting has been under attack daily since I first posted it a few days ago.
There was much to resolve . . . . . .”It is hard to drain the swamp when you are up to your ass in aligators!” says the silly proverb . . . .but it is true. When attempting to correct something which has to do with design, one needs to not be distracted by subject. But, alas, I was once again.
Then again, I needed to resolve some significant color issues so that all parts of the piece related. Here are a few items I modified;
  • Gathered together some of the big “blotches’ of ice plant to form a single large shape.
  • Attempted to create more of a green dominance in the ice plant to set up the red contrasts.
  • Worked on temperature variations throughout the entire piece.
  • Related one cliff face to the other via color and value.
  • Reduced the sweetness of the background trees by graying them considerably.
  • Attemted to set up more of an atmospheric sense in the entire painting via gradations, intensity modifications and reduced value contrasts as the viewer moved back into the picture space.
  • Warmed up the forground cypress bush from cold alizirin crimson to a warmer harmonic of colors using alizirin as a base and adding yellow and green for warmth.

There are plenty more things . . .and I noticed that I don’t think particularly clearly when I am unsure of what to do next . . .this painting was entirely from a sketch without photo references or being on the site.

This one has been waking me from slumber, too. I just had to get it done!