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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Calm Before the Storm - Collaged Abstract Painting

I'm under a lot of stress (who isn't these days?) and flying by the seat of my pants the way I do when I paint gets very tiring when you have no idea of where you'll start or what you'll use as far as material, paint, substrate, colour is concerned. I need to work in series, but to do that I need to be in my chair regularly. Right now that's not possible, so I'm going to do up 10 starts, ONLY STARTS, so I have a sense of continuity when I get into the studio.

I can see that I need more discipline. By the time I remembered to take a photo, here is what had happened to my first start - and, no, there are no more starts, but I do have a nice little collage, framed. Aaargh!!!

Next studio day I will do 10 starts..... yup!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Untitled Abstract Process Painting

Unfinished and Untitled
I'm back in the studio, painting, starting to find myself again and it feels wonderful. I don't want to knuckle down to hard work (read "making real serious art") yet so start playing experimenting. This time I've decided to go whole hog: I pull out a sheet of Arches cold press 140 lb! How's that for wanton disregard for cost?!!!

I decide to do a monoprint, starting with black india ink, new drawing sticks I found at Omer Deserres (they're from china - make really nice, intensely black marks when first dipped in water), my trusty Woody, graphite (water-soluble), water, splash around with a lovely cat's tongue brush, throw in some powdered yellow ochre pigment (also a bit of ultramarine in the lower left but it quickly dissipates). This is all put on a taped-down white garbage bag. Everything is beading up - I'm brushing with one hand, paper at the ready in the other hand - flip the paper over and pull the print. I quickly pull the ghost on a sheet of Stonehenge 90 pound. I'll save the ghost for another time.

I'm into a blue phase and working with a lot of chaos, so minimizing my colour palette seems a very wise choice (yeah, I know, I'm lazy) Now it's the fun stuff, mark-making, stamping, drawing, more collage, letting my right brain have free rein in deciding what to keep, what to veil, what to obliterate. Dance with my brush a bit (we needed to get reacquainted). There are a lot of things in here that are becoming precious but I decide I don't have to prove anything by destroying them, so I leave them for now. I can always alter/remove them later if I feel the need to. The powder ocher has left some wonderfully textured areas. They'll be a nice reward to the viewer who moves in for a closer look.
Creating focal areas with nice golden shapes and more agitated line-work, brightening, calming the chaos in inappropriate areas, the number "5" became really important and I like it there. Hmmmm, need to live with it for a while and see what else it needs. I'm feeling the whiter area bottom centre may be a bit distracting, but I really like it (lots of the original monoprinted ink wash still shows there). Maybe I'll move some more light over to the left a bit - hmmmm.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Painting Abstract Art With Intent

Living on the Edge
It's a challenge to enter the studio and act like you know what you're doing when you haven't pushed paint around for a while. Being a post-war baby means I have a real problem "wasting" material. I decide I'll work on a piece that was an experiment to start with (Sydney and I threw all kinds of acrylics on paper to experiment with their properties. Sydney's into magenta and phthalo green - I'm into muted, greyed down, black, grey). Pulling something out of a piece that two different personalities have worked on is difficult, so I wimped out and decided to experiment further by using this as the basis for overpainting with the intent of altering the existing "stuff", not obliterating it.
I first unified the painting by using gesso veils and washes, leaving some brilliant gems untouched. Then randomly glazing over with warm yellows (transparent yellow and red oxides, quin gold) then picking out some structure using black gesso, brushing, stamping, and collage.

I must have then made the right brain shift because the next thing I remember is looking at the above and thinking, "Oops! I forgot to take photos along the way!" Sorry about that. I'll try to explain. Click on the image and you'll get a better look. I basically started to respond to each decision, letting what was happening guide me to say, "Hey, what if...." so I veiled out the lower part gradually, scraping back, blotting, scratching out, writing into, to make an interesting surface. Then added more collage (upper left, center black), a bit more black gesso painted, black mark-making with Woody, prismacolor, then veiled the top with cerulean blue knocked back with black, greyed out, over-painted darker, blotted, scratched out.

Final touches after walking around with it for a couple of days: warmed up the yellow areas in spots, brought a bit of greyed lavander into the lower white middle to pick up some of the still bright magenta/violet peeking through the mid right and the veiled middle square, brightened the white squares in the black "building" in the middle to make it look painterly rather than just collaged and changed the lower right "window" to eliminate the symmetry in the piece. This work has such a cityscape feel that I added the three little abstract birds in the blue to the left of the black middle.

It has a good feel to it - gritty, decaying, precarious - just the way I like it!