Wednesday, July 16, 2008

anatomy of a painting [1]

So for the first time, I'm going to attempt to be disciplined enough to chronicle a new work from start to finish. not every interval of change but enough to witness the lifespan of a painting.
This is the new "blank" canvas. Actually stretched linen, measuring 48 square. This piece has been in existence for roughly 6 months so it isn't exactly new but having done a few ground layers and some earlier tinkering on a composition, I decided to black it out and start over.

Typically, this is how it will begin. Me in a chair staring at the thing and then taping some preconceived ideas onto the surface. These range from photos, to color copies - or more evolved collages done by hand or in photoshop or both. I have a new sunlit room for the first time in years and I am already seeing the results on my mood and ability to feel the paintings out more. I'm excited to get into something decently sized as this. Already the kernel of the idea present in the xerox on the canvas has been discarded by my fickle intuitions :)

11 comments:

Steven LaRose said...

Funny.

The first thing I noticed was the "This is not a pipe" on your mini-fridge.. . . and then the carelessly tossed tube of paint on the floor.

Interesting.

I don't seem as interested in what the thing is that will eventually be taped and inspiring, but I am curious about the darker ground. What advantage does this give you later?

highlowbetween said...

good observation skills. a real detective...

no advantage really. It was a very light color and wanted to the psychology changed for the next round of spattering. I had an earthtone already on the palette so I beefed it up, also needed something opaque to even out the surface and this color absorbs oil quite well leaving a dry chalky surface. The surface now has good glide properties for the next layer of application which will be a serious round of wet into wet. The color though isn't that important - I guess the drying qualities were what was in mind for this step.

highlowbetween said...

also, as a point of reference, I never start into the "image" on a white ground, I always begin that after a couple of layers of an earth tone - generally an ochre/umber mix with some sanding in between. It dries hard and gives the painting a little girth before you begin t he journey. The white thing is too much about the blank page - who needs that, painting is hard enough on its own.

cjagers said...

Very interesting to see the initial setup and assumptions - it determines so much before the thing has even begun!

CAP said...

The chair is working for me.

highlowbetween said...

it's a magical chair

Steven LaRose said...

From pages 84 and 85 of "What Painting Is":

"On the other hand, the starting place might be empty, like the calm sublime waters of the second verse of Genesis, slowly swirling with everything uncreated "in potentia" as theologians say - or blank canvas before the work has begun."
. . .

"It is also the solid lightless mass of lead, and the occluded lump of swamp mud. In painting it is emptiness, and also darkness. (The blank white canvas is a modern convention; in the past, the starting point was the dark imprimatura.) In the bottom of the value scale."

CAP said...

Courbet used to start with a brown base - he argued he liked to work up to highlights and down to darker tones equally, and that it was quicker that way. That assumes you work with pretty thick paint of course, but even then, the base effects reflectance, brightness of tone - which is why the Impressionists switched to white bases (maximising reflectance across the spectrum).

It's interesting a lot of artists are going back to bases prepared with other colours now, as they get more into figuration and colour/tone options there.

highlowbetween said...

well, the tone thing doesn't apply in this case as there is no even development or flirtations with chiaroscuro - it really is just about erasing and getting a solid field to work over in my case. But I have to say I do not like to start with white. feels artificial to me.

highlowbetween said...

my favorite color is Courbet Green - though not pictured here :)

CAP said...

White seems natural to me, but maybe I'm a closet suprematist.

But then I always start from drawing (esp line). For me paintings are almost always enlarged, more developed drawings. I try and solve the 'structural issues' in drawing, before wasting too much paint.

But I still waste a lot.

Afterwards I always feel wasted.