Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Winnowing

Painting is a bit like playing chess. The opponent however is not another person but the vision the painter is striving to express. When a student I was taught to back away from my work and even turn the painting upside down or or on its side to see clearly the composition and color relations. With my home studio, I am able to return to the canvas at any time to adjust or simply just to observe and think. Like the chess player I can determine my next move. 

Seeing from another angle.
With this blog—the combination of the camera, computer, and writing has been a digital stepping away from the canvas. It is another way of seeing with fresh eyes. I can see what needs improving but also the past and what I've lost and must recover. 

With my studio in Rochester, I am not able to return at any time to reflect on my canvas yet until complete the painting never leaves my mind. I am pondering my next move. Lately I've been extending the camera and computer. In the evening, away from the studio, I play with color, light and form on a photo of the day's work in Photoshop .

Blurring the lines: applying new values and hues in Photoshop.
Photoshop has many tools and filters that can quickly transform an image. Layers and Control Z give multiple options. However Photoshop is about pixels and back light and pre-engineered options. In the case of my oil paintings I use it only for quickly visualizing options. Oil paint is its own medium—pigment and pixels reflect light differently. An oil brush transfers color but also texture, consistency, and structure. As well paint can be wiped away, scratched into, spattered, and poured. It has a physicality.

When I returned to the studio this morning I had a clearer vision of my next moves. But the challenge of uncovering the painting's essence—beyond my original references and the Photoshop "sketches"—remained. Much needed to be winnowed. Other elements needed strengthening or definition. 

At a particular moment this morning, I saw gold needed turquoise to be gold and clouds needed to be foreboding in order in order for joy to come alive. And I realized that the first thing to confront as a painter is fear, let go the easy or commonplace. Push beyond timidity and reach. Queen must take rook.

Detail
Feather painted over, sketched in, yet to be completed.

Almost there, but not yet.


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