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Monday, March 11, 2013

Entry 61: When it's broke fix it

This blog started, a few years ago, as an excercise. I've never been a writer or had any confidence in writing but I've kept at it regardless. I didn't start it to pat myself on the back or to be self aggrandizing - I started blogging as a way to find confidence, feel a part of the world (without being too much in it) and to train myself to articulate ideas.

Posting pics of my work, whether it's in process or finished, is extremely uncomfortable for me - no one wants to admit to making terrible misteps in what they do but I go ahead and do it anyway for a variety of reasons. The biggest reason being: posting the pics online somehow clears my head so I can see the work as it really is and not how I want it to be. Posting online pushes me out into the open and into a state of no holds barred, undeniability. I realize that may sound dramatic but I'm not an artist who can have people over their studio - I don't lounge around swilling wine and chatting with other artists about the state of things. I work, I work dilligently and I work alone. But, in my de la hermitage nature, I don't get much feedback on my work - by posting on this blog, Facebook, and a few other sites, I get all the advatages of a critique but without all the time sucking drama a social setting is capable of.

Sometimes the blog is goofy, like the post I put  up a couple days ago. Sometimes I use it to expose my anger and frustration. But no matter what silly, seemingly frivolous thing I post, make no mistake - this blog exists to reinforce and sharpen my painting skills and to help others find their voice and courage as well.

That said:

Sometimes it's good to give up and throw in the towel on a project. But then again sometimes it's good to scrape the project down, wipe it as clean as you can and try your best to see it with fresh eyes.

A couple weeks ago I felt driven to start a larger painting. I had a tiny photo that had been on my mind for a long time and was over the top, excited to use as reference on a piece of canvas that's, in total 8ft x 9ft. The little photo is of three figures seated against a shocking white sky and deep, dark bottomless backgroud. They are clearly family and, at seeing it, I automatically knew what I wanted to do - no prob. I worked the project out in my head. No prob, till there is a prob.

My problems started when, for some reason, I derailed and chose to use basic flesh tones (on all three figures) instead of going in a more compelling or interesting direction. I want the feeling of family or relationship but it's never my desire to produce traditional and perfect depictions of family photographs. I prefer to abstract them and build an under story - imply an under current or idea.

Because of the use of flesh tones, I spent days working and reworking the little one's face and no matter what I did, she looked cutesy and flat. The boy, who's supposed to be in mud face or shadow, just kept coming out petulant. Cutesy and pouty would not have been appropriate for the direction I want to take this painting. 

So.... after scraping the two faces down to the canvas, I moved his head to (our) left about an inch, turned it so he's looking off to his right, gave her a bob cut and applied teals to their faces - much better. They feel abstracted and a bit more compelling. They won't stay this way, static and pedestrian in feel, but now I have something I can really work with instead of work around or simply tolerate:


I believe, the two smaller children differentiated by color from the young woman are more able to give a subtle hint to the intent or ideas behind the painting now. Or, at least, get the viewer a reason to think about the relationship. Hopefully.

It's still a little broke but you know what? - it's all fixable.

From Studio 120, my video series on Youtube -a video about working the entire canvas and not getting stuck in the details right away. Video was made several session before I scraped the canvas down and made readjustments -

But whatever you do, my advice - paint with confidence:

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