Sunday, December 23, 2012

How Can A Painting Go So Wrong?

Friends have been giving me persimmons the past few weeks, something only I will eat in my household. Because I was getting them from several different sources I discovered there were several differences in shape and color. Not TOO different, but different enough.

One of my favorite colors is vermilion, a deep orange red that seems to pulse with light and color. Its as if it were lit from within. I couldn't resist painting these persimmons as I was trying to become more skilled at painting the still life. Since I was using acrylic paints, they would be dry by the time I finished.

I had seen an interesting combination of orange and a yellow green in a painting that I found distinctive and attractive. So, I started with a greenish yellow background as the persimmons had been photographed on a rippled glass table. Since I knew I could never achieve that effect, a green cloth would have to suffice. Not too happy with that, I moved on to the persimmons. Somehow, it just didn't seem to be going right. There was no life, no color. I was painting them as a solid not allowing the light of the vermilion to show through. I was, well, tole painting. It was supposed to be my vision of impressionism. In trying to paint them like a realist (I mean, I already had a photo, why paint it?) I quickly realized that this wasn't my style, my voice. If that wasn't, what was?

Needless to say, I quickly came to hate this painting and it sat on my work bench as testament to my being unable to create what I saw in minds eye and couldn't get my hands to paint.

Saturday, after a nap, still recovering from whatever illness I had, I got up, threw the first painting away and started from scratch. I put in a blue and white checked tablecloth, made the fruit larger, changed several of the positions plus making them fill more of the canvas and before I knew it, two hours later, it was nearly done. I was, well, stunned. I realized at that moment you really could do a painting a day as Raymond Logan and many others do. It is a form of mental exercise that gives you a chance to experiment and test ideas each and every day. You still have time to work on larger paintings and have a sense of accomplishment!

Now, I'm not saying I'm going to try that, but I can see no reason not to try more things, found items around the house to "portray" and then see where it falls. It surely opens up ideas and subjects that you might never have tried and experimented with. Logan paints just about every day and sells his dailies as an eBay auction item. I can only wish for that but then, you never know. I do know though, that if I did a painting a day, we would soon run out of room to store them all.

My experience is that paintings CAN start badly and no matter what you do, often become worse. I mean, would you have guessed the same person painted the first and second versions of these five persimmons? When disaster strikes, and the subject is worth it, start over again. Since the first masterpieces were X-rayed, we have found that many paintings, the masterpieces we know and love were originally sketched very differently from the final work of art. What seemed to work as a sketch often didn't work as a painting. If you have done any painting at all, I am sure you know what I mean. So, don't be afraid to quit one and start another. You never know what happens the second time around.

Happy Holidays,


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