Friday, February 25, 2011
I've been reading Ken Kewley on Color on Kehoe's Powers of
Observation site and he said one should begin with a color that
excites. I picked prussian blue which hadn't left the drawer in a
couple of years, and then tried to key the rest of the painting to
work with it. Also practiced mixing many colors of the same value
to get variety in the whites, variety in mid-tones and darks. I'm
trying to cure myself of abrupt value and rampant color changes
and learn to mix interesting grays so purer colors are more effective
interacting with them.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
A many-layered "thing." This was painted, degraded, sanded, built
up, scraped, some areas layered with transparent paint and Liquin,
and some with layers of thick paint. The intention was to use transparent
layers to achieve grays and contrast textural areas on the same surface,
finding and re-finding edges, hoping to be surprised by color and the
interaction of paint. There were some very happy passages now buried
in there somewhere . . .
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Still experimenting, trying to find different ways to handle paint . . .
I had read a long time ago that part of exploration was to find and
re-find the edges and then recently, on a college student's blog, read
her account of taking a workshop with Ovanes. He had stressed to
keep the painting a wash for as long as you can---so contrary to my
habit of laying down thick paint as soon as I can. So, I'm practicing
both by not sketching the boundaries of the object and laying in washes
of values in the general area of where an edge might be. It's helping to
not commit too soon, to not get attached to getting something right while
freeing up a part of my brain to assess whether I like what is developing
on the canvas.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Another step closer. For anyone wondering what my problem is:
I have a vision or a feeling about how I "should" paint. I want to capture
the essence of things without copying them. I've been on a path to
learn how to paint from life and finally decided I'm committed to it, but I
have an abstract sensibility. And, even though I haven't come anywhere
close to mastering the skill of painting from life, I have nagging thoughts
that striving for it isn't IT for me. But what is? How to reconcile the conflict?
If anyone should have a clue as to what my inner vision is, it certainly should
be me. Except it isn't. All I do know is that what I see on my canvases hasn't
been IT. I questioned the "paint what you see" mantra and found it was
absolutely true thanks to Claire Christinel and her very articulate translation
of what it means. It uncoupled some chain in my head, made me realize
that adhering to what I "see" doesn't have to have any limitations. I had
cursed my literalness but it was only me propelling myself into one narrow
tunnel. I've found that I can look closely and observe and simultaneously
In the scheme of things, this little painting may be nothing but it was pure joy in
the making. Not sure if I can capture the same feeling tomorrow but now I
know it exists.
Posted by Lorraine Shirkus at 9:24 PM
Another small step . . . which may be noticeable only to me. It may
get worse before it gets better. I had some nice effects about 30 minutes
before I called this finished but foolishly thought I could improve on it.
Among the repertoire of things to be conscious of, there's also
recognizing when something is fresh and know to leave it alone.
I feel so close to crawling my way towards a different way of working
but it still escapes me. The good thing is that I can't wait to try another!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
There are several others but this is the second I'm willing to post. There's
a lot to learn by focusing on one subject, one is that I've been too abrupt
in value jumps so am now mixing colors on my palette differently, each
value slightly overlapping the previous---it helps in not being tempted
to blend between values. Also trying to be conscious of varying the
thickness of the paint. I'm painting very slowly, pausing between strokes
and considering where I want to put my next one. Seeing this on the
screen, it's clear my color shifts are too abrupt as well. I still have a long
way to go but, with each panel, it's becoming more pleasurable to apply paint.
I heard on npr this afternoon that Jaspar Johns was awarded the medal
of freedom for his art. Johns was quoted as saying that he had to work as
he did, even if each piece was a failure, and accepted that he would likely
have a life of failure. That's a brave artist!
Monday, February 14, 2011
I've been painting this cup over and over and find it a very challenging
object. I'm not yet brave enough or can't quite get the right values for
the cool colors that are clearly in it or making the lit side bright enough.
Focusing on one object in space has helped me notice how much gray
there is in life! And, the need to be inventive in applying paint on the rest
of the surface. When I worked abstractly, I was paying attention to the
entire canvas so it was easy to see areas that needed a mark or stroke for
the sake of composition and I could do whatever I wanted, but working
from life, I need to respect the integrity between the object and the space it
occupies. This is the best of the series so far but there are more in the works.
Posted by Lorraine Shirkus at 10:37 AM
Thursday, February 3, 2011
In my ongoing quest to see differently, apply paint differently, it seemed
a good idea to use Georgia potter, Michael Simon's salt-fired cups as subject
matter. They are so unique with his hand and personality, I really wanted
to do them justice. So I looked and squinted and tortured this poor panel
with multiple scrapings and obliterations, but in that process, realized that
"paint what you see" is very different from "copy what you see." I still
don't have a clear path but there were moments and I want to go wherever
they're leading me.
Posted by Lorraine Shirkus at 9:29 PM