Thursday, January 10, 2008
"Forkful of Garlic," 6x8 oil on canvas board
UPDATE: I wasn't happy with the way the plate came out. Too flat, not enough interesting colors. This is how my tweak came out.
I'm sometimes torn between editing a piece and just moving on. But sometimes I see something on my shelf that needs touching up, and eventually it just bugs me and I work on it. This was one such. It feels much better.
I want to loosen up my painting. (So do 99% of painters, so hey.) But I've noticed that if I'm painting for this blog, or for something that might go on eBay, I can't. I guess I've internalized a viewer or even a potential buyer, so I have to Be Serious.
So I tried something new. I decided to paint on gessoed cardboard (like my first piece). I also decided to start small and do a study or two before the full-sized, 6x8 piece. (Funny how some books say, "Use a small canvas, like 9x12 or 10x14", and yet many daily painters find those sizes to be large.) I was hoping that the cheap materials would let me be bold, and the size would keep me from futzing. Also, I read in a Kevin MacPherson book that you should (maybe as an exercise?) use the biggest brush you can. Finally, in my Tom Brown workshop, we did a preliminary color sketch, and I really liked it.
So I set up my subject. Since I'm enjoying painting the little square plates, and the fork shadows, I stuck a garlic on the end of a fork, chose the angle and aimed the lights for a nice shadow, and found a good color of construction paper for the background. I took a sheet of gessoed cardboard and outlined two rectangles, and painted them purple. I cut them apart and taped them to separate cardboard backings to paint on.
Here's my first attempt, at 3x4 inches. I really like how it came out. Since my brushes were quite large relative to the size of the "canvas," I had to paint the main masses and colors and in very few strokes. Lots of the purple background is showing through, too. Click the image to see it bigger, and see the lines left by the brush fibers.
My second one was 4.5x6 inches. I had the feeling that I was kind of familiar with the subject matter, having painted it in smaller scale, which was kind of comforting. But I found myself finishing it too much. I still like the garlic, though. You can totally click it to see it bigger.
Below is my third and final one at 6x8 inches. This is on canvas board, so it's kind of official. I think at this point I'd run out of the red paint, so I mixed more and it wasn't quite as good a color. I definitely felt familiar with the subject matter. In fact, it almost felt unnecessary to paint it at all. However, I like the way that the looser painting carried from the earlier paintings to this one. I wish I'd held onto more of it. I really liked how much of the purple background showed through in the first one. This got a bit too polished. (But the earthy green and red are still nice next to each other.)
Any conclusions? Yep. This was way fun. I had that feeling of painting with nothing to lose, and just experimenting to enjoy. Also, the sense of painting loosely did translate into the later paintings, although I lost some of it. This felt really honest, perhaps. I've since done more of this (our power was out for a few days, so very limited internet access and impossible to post). The newer attempts are not as successful, but there's sufficient goodness to do more of it. The style feels like it suits me.
Finally, here's what the two smaller pieces look like taped to their backings. Isn't it interesting? They look really honest, or painterly or something. Makes me want to paint a painting of a painting taped down.