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

Autumn brings the inspiration

Autumn begins, I mean really begins, in Texas of all  places. This weekend we had a cold front come in and suddenly I am in the creative mode somehow. In the far past, like twenty years ago, I used to write all year, photograph half the year and paint the rest of it, not specifically with intent, it just happened that way. I have not gotten back to photography in a while as my eye has somehow lost its purpose but I think it's coming back slowly although it has taken years to get back.

Christine Lebrasseur photography
Christine Lebrasseur photography

I love the immediacy of the art form, yes I said it as I've seen much debate lately on what is art and what's not. Recently, I have found a specific photographer that really embodies what I consider the art form  at its best-Christine Lebrasseur . I have often tried at points to capture something deep or interesting and often if the inspiration and eye is not on, you end up with something that is just cold but interesting but Christine captures portraits with that compelling and very interesting aspect of the face without trying to be deep or manufacture interest. I am actually planning on a separate review specific to her work so stay tuned. She captures a moment with her subject, an intimacy where the viewer is almost pulled out of their comfort zone. We can't look away and yet we feel we've interrupted their space and can only be enthralled for a moment by what we learn from them. She celebrates the beauty, the ugliness, the light and dark of her subjects and they stand out from so many other photographs. The quality of the process, the position and honesty of her subjects and the personal journey into them which the viewer just can't resist, that's my take on her work and she has inspired me to not only pick up my camera but to see things from a different perspective without trying to see things from  a different perspective. I hope you all will check her work out and let me know what you think.

I am in the process of getting back into the creative mode and recently have begun starting my next series of paintings, they are all large and seem to have a tighter feeling of space and light perfecting the end of the previous series. Maybe it is the feeling of Autumn coming, the change in temperature the closeness and availability of nature where previously in the Texas summer heat seemed distant and unapproachable. As only a fellow creative can appreciate, we go from dark to light, to feeling nothing to feeling everything and than there are those in between moments where the idea of creating something new becomes almost euphoric. I am excited about this series and the chance for seeing things differently both artistically and photographically.

For all other creatives-how do you describe that feeling of getting inspired to work. What season brings on the feeling and what is the process of turning it into finished work.