Thursday, June 12, 2014

Is Done Really Done?

When I was a graphic designer one of the challenges with a client was getting them to sign the final proof. Because it is so easy to make changes in desktop publishing, the options were infinite. Sometimes there were changes daily. New photos, relocating photos, type faces, where this page goes and that. What got it printed, finally, was their own looming deadline. At that point we were done.

"Meteor Cactus" final version
When I was recovering from surgery, after a few weeks I began to paint again. My stamina was pretty short but I started and completed a series of four 12" x 12" cactus paintings. I had heard that we should try sets or series and in a kind of mental delirium I was game to try.

"Meter Cactus" was not the first of the series but it was very bright and almost graphic in its execution. I liked it but it was missing something. However, I set it aside and went on to the next painting.

One of the classes I took at the Society of Decorative Painters (maybe a misnomer name) was from a woman in the Riverside area that only teaches online or by some kind of video. Her class was teaching us a Flemish technique where you painted with layer after layer to develop the rich colors and shadows that most modern art lacks today. No one in that class, after 8 hours, got done, but the technique she taught us intrigued me.
"Meteor Cactus" revised

Using DecoArt Traditions blending medium we learned to put layer after layer building up colors for a richness and depth you cannot achieve with one layer alone. I was hooked.

After about four layers yesterday, this is what I ended up with. Using Payne's Grey from Grumbacher blended with DecoArts Traditions blending medium, I began to work on the background. She had us coat the area with the blending medium, wipe most of it off then add the color. There were two things I wanted to enhance - the moon and the meteor streaks.

In between drying times, I then tackled the red cactus. I darkened the parts the moonlight couldn't reach. Then finally, I realized there were edges the moonlight did touch and so rather than using white, I used an unbleached titanium for the edges of moonlight hitting the cactus.

Is one version better than the other? I don't know. The bold colors are darker. However, they are still there but the rawness has been replaced with a much subtler painting, with greater depth. All the colors are there but rather than a cacophony of color, the colors are more blended, you can see their interplay with each other. They actually enhance each other in ways they didn't before.

Do I continue to modify the other paintings in this series? Maybe. What I do want to achieve is a signature style and as I discovered yesterday one that includes greater depth that can only be achieved through layering. I can be profligate in my use of colors now realizing I can tone them down with a technique I really like and admire.

I guess in many ways this answers the question often asked...why take classes from other teachers? The answer has to be, because you will be taught things you don't know. Things that will have a profound on your own art.

Please visit for more fine art paintings. See how my style is evolving. For more decorative items visit Colors really are bright there in a series of craft items, birdhouses and photography. I love color.

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