Yesterday afternoon was gorgeous outside – spring in all of its SPRINGY glory. I wanted to take a walk and go play in the out of doors. But I attended my usual Monday art class. When I arrived I can’t say that I was really into a painting mood, but I know from experience that when your mind is NOT fully engaged and you are thinking about other things, it can actually work to your advantage. You don’t over-think – you don’t question yourself – you have kind of a WTF attitude. That can bring a looser approach and a less contrived work session. But in spite of that mood, class was stimulating, energy sapping and intense – but in a good way. Some students were painting for upcoming shows. Some were painting the same kinds of things they have been painting for months now with little variation. Others were doing fascinating work that I greatly admire. A few were barely painting at all…
In some future post I will talk about the situation in an art class, any art class, which predictably involves some students who aspire to paint as precisely like the instructor as they can – they want to be clones. They do not or cannot bring an original idea or concept to the table. (On second thought I will just leave it at that, because I don’t ever want to make a habit of bashing other people’s work…)
I set up camp. I am working on 3 canvases now at the same time, but the Year Long canvas has gained a reputation and people now know it by name, and they stop by to visit HER each week, checking on progress. I am assigning it a gender now, don’t ask me why. I just don’t like calling the canvas an “IT”. The first photo at the top of this post is how the canvas looked at the mid-point of yesterday’s class, with new work done in several areas. The changes made include the subtle definition of oval shapes in the upper right with a wash of pale peach tones and in the center area I defined 3 oval shapes in the Naples yellow, then another larger oval to the left of that. Why? Because it was time to begin some definition…some type of direction defined by shapes. No, I do not know where I am going with it just yet. Then I whitened up the slash of white that runs from the lower left across the center toward the upper right. I also added more purple tones to the upper left area, overlapped some areas with additional turquoise. I am improvising – abstract expressionism is all about improvisation. The paint does speak to you – it tells you what to do next. You learn to read what the paint has said, either in its texture, tone, shade, shape, color, or line.
At that point my instructor stopped by to offer his input. I told him I felt that the painting needed some type of bold move – a big jolt – for these reasons:
1) the art needs something unpredictable and incongruent to shake things up within the whole
2) I need to give myself something brand new to deal with, because of course adding a thing like that immediately effects everything else, and it keeps me from getting bored by offering me a self-imposed problem to work through
3) a bold change would contribute greater sophistication, an element of surprise, eccentricity and complexity if it is used effectively
4) ultimately the goal would be to take the composition from mediocrity and predictability toward excellence and individuality
He totally agreed. He said it was time. I suggested a large area of flat, unapologetic strong color. Orange in fact, because there is already a bit of orange splashed around the composition. He liked that choice. I also said I wanted the area of orange to be placed in the lower right quadrant of the composition – he agreed. He and I talked….he threw out some additional ideas and I did too. He and I discussed the challenge of the 365 days ahead of me – and the probability that nearing year’s end the paint will have gotten so thick that it inhibits the artist’s options. For instance perhaps you want to make a line, for direction and emphasis, which I actually love to do, and yet you cannot do that because the surface has gotten too bumpy with paint buildup that you cannot create a convincing straight line. So you have to adjust to that, as well as a lot of other things. I am only into month 2 as of this writing. Can I do this? Do I really WANT to do this? What is it going to get me, in the long run? I have had so damn many “character building” experiences in my life – do I need this too? I hope it doesn’t sour me on painting as it builds up my character. I don’t want the art to become a chore.
You see the “before” and the “after” – remember it is just a start of orange.
I really like it, but it is not a big enough change for my taste, so I may decide to enlarge the orange a bit more or honor and enhance a second area with it’s presence.