Saturday, April 27, 2019

What If?? How to Take Risks to Add Interest to a Painting

A few weeks ago I created a post titled "Decisions, Decisions." I worked on a landscape piece that was okay, but not really catching my eye.

When an art friend, Geoff Mccormack, made a visit to my studio last week, I pulled a few paintings out to get his opinion on certain pieces. When I pulled out Rogue Bonsai I said that maybe putting a painted window around the main rock and tree would make the painting pop. Then Geoff suggested I add a native bird to the  scene.

So I ruminated: what is the intention of the piece? the tree that miraculously lives year after year on this obelisk of rock. What could help the intent be clearer?  remove some of the outside distraction. What would add an element of surprise? a kingfisher sitting on a branch.

What If??

I felt inspired to make this more interesting, more dynamic and more unique. I took the two ideas Geoff and I had discussed and got to work.

How could I place a bird on this painting which was primarily in the distance? Why couldn't it be far in front of the painting and break up the frame. What If??

I took a piece of plastic and cut out a hole in the shape of a kingfisher, placed it on the painting and then, with a wet sponger, lifted the paint from the bird shape.

Next I taped my frame shape, forcing the focus on the tree and its attachment to the rock.

What If I lighten up the area around the intention and pull out the tree and rock?

An unexpected thing happened as I applied a white wash of gouache mixed with water. Not only did the wash lighten the framed out area, it also smeared the underlying watercolor. After a brief moment of concern, I decided that I liked the ghostlike effect.

The final step was painting in the branch with a kingfisher perched upon it. His colors allow him to blend in, yet he is clearly painted once you see him. Do you?

This is truly a What If painting. I took a decent painting and took the risk of making it more interesting, a bit mysterious, and something the viewer has probably not seen before. What do you think?

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Building a Village in a 9 x 12 inch Shadow Box

Last summer this experimental and interpretive painting was accepted into an exhibit by the International Society of Experimental Artists. It was an odd six or so year project which had started as an unsatisfactory abstract. The abstract waited, cut up and gathering dust until I had the idea last summer to use it to build a painting from memories of Cinque Terre, Italy.

I painted small structures and glued the buildings on a variety of platforms from single mat board to double foam core to create a relief, although the photo does not show this well.

Since the painting came back to me, my husband and I have enjoyed looking at it in our own home. But I have been given an opportunity to show 3 pieces of art at a local residency. I thought the "Cinque Terra Reenvisioned" would make a cheerful addition to the show. However there is only one, and nothing else I've created is similar. The solution--get out to the studio and make 2 companion pieces, "Cinque Terra Reenvisioned #2 and #3."

Step 1: paint and collage a background using the same color palette. 

Step 2: Make appropriately sized architectural pieces (or tiny houses:). 

Step 3: After painting and cutting out the structures, figure out how they will sit on the background. 

Step 4: Start gluing--each piece has to have an appropriate level of platform underneath to rise above the previously laid piece. I learned to take photos on my phone as I arranged them so I didn't have to "reinvent the wheel" over and over.

Step 5: I had two wooden shadow boxes I had prepared with a black paint to receive the two new pieces. It was one last gluing, and I was happy to finish after several days of putting these together. 

Now I have 3 companion pieces to show and I am having carpal tunnel surgery in 2 weeks to cure all the painting and cutting and carving damage I've done to my wrist over the years!

(I wish the lighting was better--the top piece caught all the light.)