As I attempted to shake the hangover from the richness of the weekend or mine it for inspiration—having luck with neither– I got distracted trying to make a comment on Brendan’s blog, the Trader Joe’s Wine Compendium (which you all would find useful if you drink wine- http://feeds.feedburner.com/traderjoeswinecompendium .) In doing so I discovered an old post on Blogspot. Not sure if it ever saw the light of day.
It was worthy of a re-post even though we have done similar things lately so you will find it below. It also fits with this week’s class in which I will demonstrate my process once again.
I will start with a large, gessoed canvas after choosing a photo as my resource. The painting will not be finished during class but usually I can get down the basics in about 45 minutes—enough to hopefully provide some insight.
It will be your choice of how long you observe and when you want to begin painting on either a fresh start or a re-work. I’ll do my best to talk and paint, but as painting requires focus I find this is very difficult. Feel free to ask questions, but other chatter will be hard to work through. Here is a brief rundown of the routine. Follow along during class if you choose:
*Choose a subject that speaks to me. Something that gives me the urge to pick up a brush but also something that offers me strong structure with some choices in direction. This is crucial to frustration level. If there is not a good composition in the photo I need to make sure I can: crop; edit; rely on other input; or be able to work from my head to create one.
*Then I begin with charcoal and a spray bottle. This is the medium that most inspires– something about that silky smooth flow of the rich black against the white that leads me down the path to expression. Midtones are established.
*From there I let the colors that I can’t wait to squeeze out of the tube enter into the picture—you will see how it goes. (So will I–until it is going, one has no idea.)
For your part, bring something to paint–either begin anew or continue developing or reworking paintings in progress. If you’re in the mood follow the instructions in the old post below and see how it effects your process.
The exercise was to first write down why the source material was chosen, what it evoked, why it mattered. Then create your own “problem” by writing down a set of eight instructions.
Unlike most exercises we do the dialogue shifts slightly to be with oneself at the beginning of the process rather than with the painting.
1) With photo upside down, find three lines and draw them on the page.
2) Turn paper upside down and repeat those three lines.
3) Choose three shapes made by these lines and create lights and darks within these, giving a sense of shadows.
4) Turn the paper, where things look tight, loosen them.
5) Assess for balance using either shapes or colors from the photo to balance the piece.
6) find some element in the photo that you didn’t notice before and add it. (why didn’t you notice it).
7) Assess and remove an element that doesn’t serve the whole.
8) Turn the paper upside, make a wash the color on one element and apply where needed.
Ellen, whose subject was a photo of an Antonio Gaudi sculpture says: “Music is evoked by this work of Gaudi—Baroque music. Music and water. Light & darkness. Geometric and floating lines. Visual poetry.
Her instructions were more of reminders of what to do while working rather than step-by-step directions (edited for brevity).
1) Remember to stop working and look from a distance; squint; look from different angles, turn upside down, etc.
2) Stop working when you don’t know how to proceed. Consult other sources for “things that can be done” before deciding there is no way to proceed.
3) Round up your muses at the outset and at every point that you feel doubt.
4) Be fearless, but not careless.
5) Stay invested in the process, not the outcome.
6) Try to create light coming through the work.
7) Remember how important darkness is in creating light.
8) Do not fear your own darkness.
I love the last comment! Do not fear your own darkness!!! It says so much,in so few words.