November 21, 2014

Simplicity vs Detail, Round 3

Left some detail, simplified again… and tomorrow, round 4.  I think it's getting better.

November 20, 2014

Branches in "Batik"

The ongoing battle, simplicity vs. detail, is being fought yet again in my studio this week.   I wanted to capture a smaller, more intimate view of the light through the trees I've been painting this week and last.  I started with the cyan-magenta-yellow palette that I've used for this series, but I didn't feel like my first stabs at this were adding to my understanding of the scene.  Depth, check. Contrast, check.  Warm, cool, yeah, got that.  So what was it?  I was thinking about the image and the batik-like lace branches that broke up the sky and the shadows.  I'd been ignoring them as fussy details.  And so they may be.  But they do give the painting a lively dance that was missing before.

November 12, 2014

Light Through the Trees & Color Mixing

I returned today to a subject I've painted before, the early morning light through trees, inspired by sights while walking the dogs on a beautiful fall morning this week.    The painting is not done, I'm going to work on thicker paint areas. I also have some adjustments to make once the paint is a bit drier and I can see just how transparent or opaque it really is.

In my studio, I have a new light that's broken -- it strobes for about 45 minutes to an hour before settling down -- and until it's fixed, I have to do something other than paint while it's flashing.  Today I decided to spend some time mixing paint.  I've been reading The Secret Language of Color (a great book!) and thinking about mixing paint according to the cyan-yellow-magenta trio.  As the book points out, you know your computer printer mixes every color from those three (plus black) so you should be able to as well.

So this is my palette -- to which I added burnt sienna (not on the palette in this photo), white for tinting and "black" mixed from oriental green & alizarin.

November 7, 2014

Abstract Distraction

I was in the process of obliterating a painting -- yet another that I thought was dull, conventional, uninteresting -- and in painting out the recognizable forms,  and then playing with the color, this is the result.  It's got the luminosity I couldn't get to, trapped by the tyranny of the objects I was painting, and there's depth created by the contrast in value, more than the warm/cool transitions.

Is this why people paint abstract paintings?  Maybe it's one reason -- but it's also why the paintings I consider especially great have both the paint qualities I like in this and have some recognizable elements that tie them to the real world.  There are paintings of mine, those I count as successes, where I get that balance right.  I seem to be mired in the other, frustrating works right now.   The solution has to be to keep painting.

November 5, 2014

Abstraction and the Portrait -- work in progress

I was working on a portrait and it was yawningly conventional.  Choices I'd made about limiting the palette didn't energize it, I was feeling frustrated about it.  Competence at capturing a likeness wasn't a satisfying result.

I tested out the idea of pulling out colors into geometric shapes and it did bring a certain zip into the painting.  I'm working on taking that idea further, changing the way the eye moves through the painting through a pattern of bright vs subdued color.  This is where it is so far.