Yeah, okay I get it... with still life it is all about the details. I used to hate that. I just wanted everything to be expressive and to embrace the imperfections. I will never be a photorealist, but since I've been working as a designer my eagle eye for details has developed and I can't go back.
Work In Progress
Sometimes to get back into it I have to go big.
Grab a new piece of paper and just start and see how it turns out. Now that I've started my first skull and I see how it is visually working, I need to practice. That means drawing and sketching a lot more so I am comfortable with the form. Also playing with small-scale paintings to get the watercolor just right. Find where the drips are work and figure out the whole depth thing.
When I work on a small scale I find I am less precious about the work. If it's not working then I'll start over. The key here is repetition. Through repetition hopefully I'll land on a visual language that will inform and improve my larger pieces once I get there.
I just got to get there.
The creative process is similar throughout different fields. Since I work in advertising my critical thinking for art tends to parallel with the concepting process.
Color series thus far has been in the concepting phase. It's mostly exploring and finding different directions of what it could be but there is no solid idea yet. But now time to mold and shape these pieces into a cohesive body of work. Some will get left behind, some will have new life breathed into them.
I started by evaluating the different pieces - why the strongest is successful and why the weaker ones aren't working as hard. This reflection phase is all about picking favorites and dissecting intuition. I do a lot of listening to my own thoughts and to people who offer their opinion.
At this point I have decided to go in the direction of No. 1.
For me, No. 1 is the strongest for different reasons. Here are my fluid thoughts on what I like about it.
I like that it looks like a head, it's like a psychedelic skull, it reminds me of kid cudi's album cover, the white space makes you think it could be a brain or represent the inside of what is going on in someones head, i love the colors, its all complex and fluid and maybe that what i like to think is going on in my head.
So then I wondered what a family of head-space paintings would look like. Would they all draw you in and make you think? For me, I can see multiple of these retaining their integrity instead of feeling like half-ass replicas. Lets find out and lets see if this sucker has legs.
Taking a look at my color series pieces I've decided that the strongest pieces are the ones that are more complex. Yes, drips are beautiful but that is it. The drip pieces feel more decorative where the ones that have more to them draw you in. It makes the brain try to see something in form, try to make a connection. So I will continue down this path. It is the harder path, no doubt about it. I am already wondering how I am going to pull it off. I think it will be by not overthinking and just doing. Easier said than done but here I go.
it has been 7 years since i had last played in a world of full abstraction. i’ve always had motifs or a horizon line to ground the work. something brains could recognize and then interpret.
now, there is just color, water, and paper. though there is simplicity in supplies the output is complex. the nature of water is fluid but stubborn. it will pick a path to flow and never want to deviate. it moves the color with it. pulling it down and dripping it off the paper. it will pool up and settle into the paper at it’s own rate. the colors soak into the page in unpredictable ways.
these paintings are of the stroke of color field where color itself becomes the subject. when there is only color that informs the painting the viewer is left to read into the emotion the piece provokes.
reading and judging the work has become subjective – pieces i hate others love. it is forcing me to work off of intuition more than my educated eye. this challenge in ambiguity is well worth the energy. the body of work is an exploration into unknown territory. it is terrifying and freeing at the same time.
the only way is onward.
let me start by saying i am happy with 3 of the paintings. that is pretty good for 5.
no. 5 + no. 3
no. 3 and no. 5 are being difficult. visually they stand out because they lack energy, the compositions are awkward, and they don’t have splatters of paint like the others. i’ll start in chronological order.
i was hesitant with this one from the beginning. for some reason i got timid and made a smaller blob than the others. i tried to make up for it with red splats but there was too much empty space and no connection between the central blob and the red spatters. my solution: make a white circle to hide the rest and focus in on the primary blob – there are some nice spots in there. the gesso smudged the paint and i decided to go with it. you can see through the white and the paint pulled the watercolors along with it in the circle. it feels like wind. alas – the next step and direction for this piece is unknown.
again, awkward mass to begin with (large with a disconnected red blob off to the side). i added drips of red to try to unite the two blobs but i think i went to far and now i’m in a standoff with an inanimate object. should i say fuck it to white space and fill up the paper? i can’t decide. also the painting lacks orientation. i don’t know which way it should stand.
all the paintings had dried and it was time for me to face them. to evaluate them.
making is the fun part but meaning is what it is all about.
i lined them all up against the wall and looked at them together. each different than i remembered. some were further along than others but there was one i just had no idea what to do with. that is when you just let it be.
i pulled out my artist journal and started writing down what i saw. as i did this my mind kept circling around two words: ethereal* and celestial**.
all my previous bodies of work have dealt with the terrestrial life. landscape inspired. heavily focused on earth elements.
when i set out to do this body of work i knew i would be jumping of a ledge and now i find myself among air, space, and water. i am anything but grounded and gravity seems irrelevant – floating seems more appropriate.
amid the thoughts and reflection a new direction was found for late bloomer no. 3.
*ethereal : lacking material substance, relating to the regions beyond earth
**celestial : suggesting divinity or heavens, relating to the sky, mythical being
5 paintings started. 3 solid starts. 2 mess ups. 1 cover up.
for some the blank white page is terrifying. for me, getting started is easy – it’s continuing that is hard.
with watercolor you go in spurts. paint furiously. dripping, splattering, bleeding pigments into one another and then pause. it can take hours for it to fully dry. you leave that piece and start on another. although you’ve stopped working on the paper, the watercolor has not. colors are settling and soaking as water evaporates.
no matter how you left it, the painting always looks different when you come back to it.
in these moments you have to reevaluate, reconsider, and redirect where you are going. this is the hard part.
but i’ll deal with that tomorrow.