Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Anatomy of a Painting 101

It's been a long time since I blogged.  Life got in the way for about seven months last year so I spent this fall catching up with myself again.  Instead, I've used more immediate ways of communication, fbk live and videos to bring you along on my journeys and give glimpses of my process.  I've spread my wings even more on Instagram.  I love to incorporate my art  digitally and infuse it with words that speak to me.  But those platforms don't always illustrate my artistic uncertainties and decision-making midstream.  I've picked a new painting to talk about it, but first a little backstory. 

Thanks to Jodi Ohl's Zenpainting class that I treated myself to this fall, I've really enjoyed the exposure to working with a predominantly neutral palette.  It is alternately challenging and frustrating because you don't have color to set your tone or mood. These are two of my first   

attempts.  The one on the left was made up of four 6" square panels and is all graphite and neutral Golden High Flows.  The one on the right used the same palette but added Titan Buff.  I really enjoyed exploring Jodi's abstract style, but mine kept peeking through and luckily she is very accepting of my walking off the regular path.  I worked in color next and loved that, too (not included here), and then heading back into my interest in high contrast black and saw how it meshed with more neutrals and bronze. 

My own teaching deadlines hit along with the holidays so I didn't return to painting in mid-January. My biggest mistake was not taking photos of this process because it was wild and woolly just hours into it.  I had started with a cruciform composition without any representational intent in my mind, but midway through I saw the iris in front of me.  The rest took care of itself.  (In fact, I'll show the painting both ways so you know I am not pulling your leg.)

Cruciform skewed left.
Last week I continued my explorations and boldly committed to a large arount of black very early.  That go-getter posturing is both a positive and a negative.  On the positive side, it helps you commit in a direction, but on the negative side, that commitment can limit other choices you'd like to make. Here you see in the left picture, I've broken up the gessobord into two parts and I do have a vertical division as well.  That quickly goes by the wayside in picture two.  Here, also, I have committed to the bold, black statement.  Whatever I do now has to balance out that black so I chose to dominate the white background with the palest of neutral florals.  So you ask, where did those marbles or bubbles or pea pod groupings come from?  I don't have a clue.  Well, I drew them.  How did they relate?  They didn't, but I kept leaving them, hoping I would figure out a way to make it work.  Well, the third picture (ignore the cast from the dreary day) Gessobord.  It is the bomb.   No paint except the Golden Carbon Black High Flow.
shows my solution along with the background work I did up top.  I took as much of the circular objects out as I could with a baby wipe.  Luckily the background at this stage was all stabilo and graphite so leftover staining was minimal. 

 Below, I began reworking the center section that I had decimated.  The center became a populated "zebra" area to support the black and break up the areas that showed the remnants of the removal.  Larger flowers were added to link the original smaller flowers to the larger ones near the top.  Areas were darkened with thin layers of graphite and the beginnings of heavily watered down neutral paint.  The high water content allows for a painterly shading that, when dry, works perfectly for this painting.  I drew branch lines to support the original lines that divided out the blackened background areas, plus they broke up the zebra sections.  White was also added to make the centers pop and in places on the petals. 

Pitt pen was added to define the flowers and areas of black were cleaned up and used to further separate the flowers where needed. 

So midstream this painting was going to have one flower tinted with a quote (I'm saving for another piece so mum's the word on it).  I auditioned (with my sister's guidance) both text and tint and rejected it.  It's strong enough to stand on it's own in person.  Who knows what various computer imaging will do to it.  My point is..... you never know where art will end up.  Be loose enough and brave enough to change midstream if you need to.  You never know where it will end up if you do, but each time you are brave, you'll get more confidence to do it again.  

What's up next for me?????  Well, Artiscape for starters in April.  I have three classes on tap there.  I'm really excited for them and to return there.  It's a fab event.  I'll be at Stampaway in August as well with two classes.  Those haven't been published yet.  Who knows what else!!!! To be decided........  Follow me on IG and Facebook at Nancy Curry Art or if you like poodles, find me also on fbk here.  As always, my regular site has links to it all.  PLAY. ALL. THE. TIME.