No one will ever accuse me of being a focused painter. Case in point: I was given homework in mid-July 2017 and I’m just now getting around to doing it.
When Ruth Buchanan came to give a workshop last summer, she left me with homework.
“You told me on the first day that you get distracted by color. I want you do do a week of painting in two colors, and then add three colors. Send me a timeline of your work and we’ll go over it.”
I’ve been thinking about this ever since, but have not committed.
Almost immediately, I had an idea for the topic of this potential body of work. A couple of years ago, I did this painting, which has remained one of my favorites.
Shoes & Shadows -$200
I loved the rhythm and the contrast of the white shoes and black shadows. I’ve been making noises ever since about doing more.
When I did the Francesco Fontana workshop in the fall of 2016, I several small hooves paintings, culminating in this piece which I was very happy with.
I think it’s a good topic. Edward Degas (and many others, obviously) did a series of racehorses and the lines of the horses legs have always intrigued me (though Degas, who was a misognist jerk, is not among my favorite artistic characters in history.)
Race Horses c. 1893, Edward Degas
Last fall there was a Winsor & Newton demo at the WSO Fall Convention; they put Brown Madder and Cobalt Blue together and had people play with them. The colors wash and granulate beautifully, creating a lot of great effects.
I didn’t want to do a bunch of big paintings, so the largest painting I determined would be 1/4 sheet (15″x11″). I wanted to push myself and say I would only draw the base layer, but with time being a crunch, I have cheated on that part.
To be frank, I’m really not very excited about showing off these paintings. They just…. aren’t what I was hoping for.
#1 (color arrangement based on FF workshop)
#2 (same reference, trying different color arrangements)
#3 (have lost the simplicity and just given up)
#4 (messed up the drawing, lost the leg placement… and just… ugg)
#5 (before changed background)
#5 (changed background)
$6 (trying hard to loose edges)
#7 (drawn, not traced)
Gretchen’s cat Simon (still need to fix tail line)
“Focus” (love ducks, dog needs more work)
I feel like I am onto something. This is a great exercise, and when I sit down and paint, I am enjoying it. But when I walk away I start picking it to pieces.
- “I need to draw more.”
- “I’m using too many brushstrokes.”
- “Everything looks purple. I’m not using the full range of colors.””
- “I’m not loosing enough edges.”
This project is not destined for a show. The point is to strengthen my value and color understanding.
I also think however, this is turning into an experiment with style change. I’ve been painting since 2006 (about 12 years) and I’ve had a couple of very good years, getting into shows and even winning some awards. But like all artists, I want to get better, and that means trying new things.
One of my favorite artists, Lynda Hoffman-Snodgrass, is an abstract artist of some note. I heard her say she started out as a botanical illustrator (it might have been just “very detailed” so don’t quote me.) Think of all the changes she must have gone through to become the award-winning abstract artist she is today.
It makes my current struggles look very paltry indeed.