Here's a quick study to prepare for a still life class. If I don't do the exercise myself, I'm not teaching it as well as I could.
Sometimes I spend a month or more on a painting, as perfectionism can sometime grab me by the heels, but it's important to sometimes just paint fast and not take it too seriously. Isn't there a cookbook titled "Fix it and Forget it"? I think sometimes that's good advice.
This painting went through a lot of stages, from loose to tight to loose to tight...trying to find a good balance between the two.
I like the compositional tension between the strong red in the background competing for attention with the more subtle colors of the shell. Bold, saturated colors usually come forward in a painting, dull colors retreat, so I suppose I was trying to see if I could break one of the rules and have it work.
When I'm painting up on the roof, and the sun comes out, there are so many beautiful scenes that I think I'll never live long enough to capture them all. When the sun goes behind clouds all the magic is gone. Painting landscape, for me at least, leaves me entirely at the mercy of the skies. Today I started something, the sun disappeared and I sat waiting and waiting, then went downstairs to do the dishes, wash my hair, answer emails. A couple hours later the sun returned and I scrambled up the ladder to begin another. It's pretty handy to have my outdoor studio right above me, but I feel like nature is in charge, not me!
I had only a four-hour window to work on this radish bunch, then when I returned to them the next day they had moved mercilessly out of position. Frustrated, I worked on this from memory today.
Lately nothing holds my focus unless it's a subject that I have to grab quickly before it changes or vanishes. Landscapes, still lives of fresh vegetables or fruits, or life drawings- all are of living things and seem so much more interesting to me than inanimate objects.
I'd never heard of Fairy Tale Eggplant before I spotted these at the local farmer's market, and fell in love. At the end of a long day of painting, I sauteed them with garlic, parsley, tomatoes and peppers. They have none of the bitterness of globe eggplant, and cook quickly. Just darling things.
I am developing a new way of working, trying to keep my work looking fresh and inspired but not too slap-dash. I choose a subject the day before, or very early in the day, then spend 6-8 very focused hours trying to capture it. Painting something with ephemeral beauty (or strangeness) helps me to feel that I better get my impression down quickly, as the second day it will have changed too much. I take a black and white photo of the subject at the end of the day.
Then I turn the painting around and don't look at it for 2-3 days. When I finally check it out, I'm immediately struck by what works and what doesn't, and make a few changes or additions with the use of the photo, working for under an hour. I keep telling myself that the photographic image is not my boss- I'm the boss.
It's fun, more fun at least than working things to death and losing the original feeling of inspiration.
It's a hot 4th of July, and even hotter up on the roof- but the views make it bearable. I painted this same view in May, but from a window- not such a vertical view. I love vertical views, when all lines are moving rapidly away from the viewer, giving the scene energy and movement.
My landlord has allowed me access to the roof. I've spend much time up there this week, sketching and getting acquainted with the views.
It's a little difficult getting up there; I have to climb an extension ladder then pull myself and all my supplies up through a skinny hatch in the ceiling. I have a fear but also a fascination with heights- I think the worry keeps me on high alert.
The other day I slipped up there and landed hard on my tailbone. Today I dropped my new metal easel on my own head as I was trying to get through the hatch. Hope that was it for the mishaps up there- for a while.
I prepped a board with clear acylic gesso because I wanted to try painting on a beautiful ocher-y surface instead of my usual white gesso. It took three days of slathering the paint on to get the painting to have a good sense of light- it seems I had to paint very very thickly to get a light color to not show the brown surface coming through. But this was wonderful! The thick texture was fun to work with, and I used a palette knife in the lightest areas.
I've been fiddling around with palette knife painting lately, and this is my second try. I began with a careful drawing, then painted the entire thing with my palette knives. Spreading the paint with knifes is wonderfully fun but also daunting. It's kind of like eating without utensils- or even fingers...like eating with furry paws or something.
I am happy with the colors here, and it's probably a good way for me to paint from time to time, as I do normally get so caught up in detail, losing the forest for the trees.
I was thinking of possible titles, such as "Tulips with Greens" (which sounded too much like a description of a dish), but then settled on what I feel this painting is all about- longing. Longing for something unnameable, ungraspable, and outside that window.