Sunday, September 22, 2013

What's in an underpainting?

Under painting+ of A restaurant balcony- a work in progress-

It has, in the past, been difficult starting painting when your first process is just under painting. Especially when there is a strong urge to create, the underlying image had always seemed like a slow walk when the creativity was desperate to run. I often want the immediacy of a product that looks more like a ghost of a finished product rather than the scribbles of a mad abstract artist. In recent times the under painting has actually become the backbone of the finished product, it is the stage hand that sets the atmosphere for the play, it is the building block to colors that form only in combination with the colors that show through from beneath.

If I am left cold on the initial image, chances are the finished product will not have the atmosphere or depth that I need it to have. I don't paint pretty landscapes, not that there is anything wrong with that, I strive to paint moments in a place that happens to be a landscape. I hope that there are psychological undertones which I believe begin with the rough under layers. All objects, light and shadows form from the spine that is the under painting. All subtleties are created by how well the underlying scene appears and how the creative vision bends and twists the original rough image of that reality.

I almost think the psychology of the under painting is the sadness, the euphoria or the basic feeling of darkness and separation, these elements that perfect themselves in the original sketch and under painting. No one would have a clue of the finished product from the original sketch on canvas but the initial color and layout should explain, not necessarily in form but by atmosphere the painting and its undertones that will come together if everything works as it is supposed to. Another aspect that is often in the background is the music I am listening to which is directly related to my psychological state at the time. Much like my writing, there is usually a basic story that is happening and can be taken as lightly as a waterfall on a spring day but the feeling behind it is always there and that is the task I aim for the viewer, to feel something they may not know or recognize on first view.

If the under painting is the backbone, the details are the guts and the spirit is the feeling, the music that is captured without clarity. I hope to possibly haunt the viewer with whatever underlying feeling I have at the time the under painting is created. For other creatives, what does the under painting mean to you? Do you start with an under painting or go on directly to the finished work?

Beginning of the Terns-Florida coasal morning

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