Sunday, October 25, 2015

Seeing the Image Beneath Paint

An old photograph of my son and his first fish.

The Beginning of a new painting series is often a bit daunting. I have a list of old painting ideas, some as old as twelve years-the reason they haven't become finished paintings is probably the idea was good but the actual image just never made it through with any clarity.

I have several failed paintings from recent series that I will reignite in this series. One of those paintings is a painting of my good friend's daughter. First off, I don't do portraits normally but there is something I have always theorized-if you paint with an eye for detail and accuracy you can paint anything.

A portrait artist knows portraits, therefore certain things that they can do to cut corners or certain angles they are used to capturing accurately-being familiar with your subject gives you a bit of shorthand but if an artist sees with the eye and paints without the conscious brain filling in and assuming, often inaccurately, the artist is free to paint what they see.

I would welcome any agreement or disagreement as this is just a theory. I have worked hard on the specific painting I mentioned, I would get a bit closer, drift off completely and get back to the basic shape and form. Today I actually watched as the image developed quite mysteriously beneath the layers of thin paint.

I've learned with the portrait, to move small amounts of paint around that pick up shadow and light. The shapes and the lines are very subtle and the colors are even more subtle. I watched as this particular portrait came to light. Now the colors are still a bit cooler which gives her a bit morbid appearance but once it dries I will give it another coat of a warmer flesh tone.

Meanwhile as her portrait becomes what will be a finished product, I am in the middle of four others. I would say I got back to her not so much for a perfect painting but more to pay attention to small details. It becomes an exercise and observing and capturing an image accurately.

I am excited about a blackbird painting in an urban backdrop, several kayak paintings, a night fountain at the harbor and other various ideas in different degrees of being finished.
Would love your feedback on a painter painting anything, if not why?


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