Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Yes, but is it done?

Knowing when something is finished is hard.  Maybe if I painted portraits or landscapes or fruit bowls it would be easier, but with an abstract composition there's never a feeling of putting in the final puzzle piece.  Lately I've been mounting pieces on wood panels whether I think they're done or not as a way of pushing me past that completion paralysis.

But now I have a tower of half-finished paintings on cumbersome wooden blocks piled up in my tiny art room and I keep tripping over them.

 There's this one:
Some days I look at it and I love it and I'm ready to hang it up.  Some days I look at it and think it's a meandering mess that needs a focal point, or a big shape or something.

And then there's this one:
It's been through so many changes, and each new layer has improved it, but I don't know where to go next.

This one is definitely not done and it's been shuffled about for weeks.  I don't love it enough to keep working on it, but I don't hate it enough to want to totally obliterate it in new layers.

I'm liking the way this one looks:

But it doesn't have as much richness or depth as I'd like and I feel like I should keep adding.  On the other hand, I don't want to ruin what I've got going on.

Because here's one that's gone way too far and is going to have to be reeled back in.  Obliteration is in your future!

What are your strategies for knowing when to keep going and knowing when to stop?

Friday, March 17, 2017

It's not a blizzard and I'm blogging anyway

I came home from work tonight, eager to paint, to learn that not only did we not have heat, but the boiler was spewing water all over the basement floor.
So we turned off the water in the house, borrowed a wet-vac, and put in a call to the plumber.
Meanwhile, it's freezing cold in the art room, and even if it wasn't, I'm such a colossally messy painter that I can't imagine making art without running water. I'm huddled under a blanket with the dogs instead.  Who needs heat when you have hounds?

Here's another of last weekend's finished paintings:

I started with one of those veiled black and white backgrounds - painted the green shape, and stamped/splattered some blue acrylic ink. It was a long journey from here to the final version.  I got lost a long the way a few times.

 For the next layer, I rolled some quin gold paint onto the gelli plate, scribbled into it, and then laid the painting on top to pull a loose monoprint.

I scribbled on top with something black.  Ink maybe.

Naples yellow was added to the white areas.

I stamped on some white paint with a homemade stamp...

...then made some long drips of dark teal paint, and added more scribbles with a fine tip marker.

Things were getting a little crazy, and I missed documenting a few steps, but I think I did some veiling with white, then stamped some green dots in the middle.  It was looking like a hot mess and I wanted to cover up a lot of it, so when it was dry, I carefully taped down two orb-shapes cut from paper.  Using them as masks, I painted black over one and green over the other.  It was frightening, so I quickly added thin layers of yellow and white paint over the black.

It was getting kind of muddy, so brighter and more opaque color went on next - extending the green area, adding the bright blue, and stamping some darker yellow in the upper left. The orange circle was drawn with crayon.

I decided that lower right bit was way too busy, but also not very distinct.   I honestly can't remember if I scrubbed some of it way, or just veiled with with layers of orange, but I made it disappear.  The whitish area on the left is actually light blue.  The black outlined shape is cut from paper and glued onto the surface.

Here's a close up of the yellow bit that I really love. I used a foam sheet that has little tiny circles carved into it as a stamp.  You can see some of the lower layers of paint through the circles.

Though I've forgotten doing this, at some point I must have smooshed on some matte medium for texture, as you can see in this close up.

After I glued it to the board, I extended the black outline over the edge with paint.

I was really ready to give up on this one a few different times along the way, but now I quite like it.  I'm getting better at pushing through the ugly stages.
Wish me luck pushing through the ugly stages of home ownership tomorrow when I have to pay the plumber!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Not dead

I spent most of Saturday and Sunday painting.  It's been a long time since I immersed myself this way.  I worked on 6 paintings simultaneously, and took pictures along the way.  I wasn't thinking about this from a blogging perspective - I just wanted to capture the transformation of each piece so I could reflect on it and learn from it.  But after a series of text exchanges with my friend Lynn, and after catching up on months and months of her blog posts (and reading this post entitled "doesn't anybody blog anymore?") I decided to share.

Here's one of the finished pieces.  It was created on 8"x 8" paper and then mounted to a wooden panel.  I decided to paint the panel sides after the paper was mounted.

The whole series of paintings came from a stack of black and white layered pieces that have been sitting around for months.  I grabbed six of them and added one random element to each, and then another element, and another, working in sequence until something started to emerge from each one.
Here's the evolution of the piece above.
(I don't have any process pictures of the base layer, but it was a series of black marks layered with white paint, created with the intention of painting over it.)

Dripped some crimson acrylic ink.

Added a light layer of greenish blue paint with a brayer. (Did not add pink to the left side, it's just weird lighting.)

Scribbled with a graphite crayon.

Rolled on some Naples yellow paint.

Drew some circles using a Naples yellow Neocolor crayon.

Partially covered the scribbles with more aqua paint.  Added some white veiling in the lower left corner.  This time I used a dry brush to apply the paint.  It's murder on the brushes to scrub like that, but I like the effect.

Doodled a thin crimson line with a colored pencil.

Did some more veiling with all three colors, partially obscuring the lines and circles and adding more depth.  Cut squares from painted paper and glued them on.

Of the six weekend paintings, I feel like three are finished.  I even hung them up.

Maybe I'll even blog about them.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Lesson 3

This week's lesson in the Jane Davies class was about shape.

It's hard not to create Jane-like work after watching her demos, particularly because I love her style so much.
Here are some stacked shapes like Jane's, done mostly with the gelli plate.

and then because they look like stones, and I love stones, I went off on a stone-printing tangent and almost got stuck there for the weekend.

I could experiment with this process for the rest of my life.

Plus, they remind me of the Leo Lionni book "Frederick" and what's not to love about that?

 But I grudgingly tore myself away from this so I could focus on the class assignment.
It's tempting to just show you the pieces I like 

and pretend the dozen weird and ugly pieces don't exist

(I really don't know what happened here)

But it's all part of the process, and kind of the point of the class.  Make a ton of work, and make it on cheap paper so it doesn't feel precious.  Try things, leave them unfinished, take them too far, make some more.

Here are some I don't love, but don't totally hate:

(except that big green shape reminds me of an Android)

And here are some that more or less please me:

As always, just as I start to hit my stride it's time for a new lesson.
I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

100 drawings on cheap paper

I am so excited to be taking the on-line Jane Davies class, "100 drawings on cheap paper."  The first time she ran it, it sold out before I could register.  When she announced she was running it again, I jumped.  That was almost ten months ago and the waiting has been killing me.  Class finally started September 9th.  I'm two lessons in, and loving it.  It was worth the wait.

So far we've been working on line and layering, and using different techniques to vary the opacity of the paint.  Adding, lifting, obscuring, veiling in all kinds of ways.  I did more than 20 pieces over the weekend and I would just keep going in this manner but lesson 3 goes live tomorrow and I'll soon be caught up in that.

Here are some of the highlights of the weekend.  Some feel finished, others don't - all were a joy to create.  (all created on inexpensive 9x12 drawing paper.)