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Posts Tagged ‘painting’

Sometimes a painting reads well right from the start.

16sept1early 16sept1early2nd

At left is a painting in its very first conception.  At right, the second stage.

You can’t count on this, but it happens. Here is the finished work.

16sept1

Jan Fleckman, acrylic on canvas, 40” x 30”

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RedSquares

In this painting the red squares are in the foreground.  They appear to float on top of a background of various colors, where the blue mass reads as an integral shape and therefore dominates the other areas of this background.

At its right border (1), the blue is convex, meaning it curves outward, creating the feeling that it is pushing outward to the right. This dynamic is emphasized by the sliver of white (2) which is being worn thin by blue’s intrusion.  The white is concave. It’s a dart or arrow pointing to the right.

RedSquaresAnalysis

Stop, you may say at this point. This a colorful painting, I like it, that’s enough. You’re over-thinking this thing. These blotches of color are not going, pushing or invading anything.  They’re just sitting there.

True.  The PAINT is sitting there.  But the PAINTING is not a physical object; it’s an event in the mind.  The power of abstraction is that even though there is no identifiable object depicted in an activity, the viewer of the painting will EXPERIENCE an activity.  A drama, really, full of tension, aggression, pushing and pulling…and resolution.

We perceive the red squares as floating on top of everything because they have clear edges that do not bleed into the background anywhere; plus, there’s a suggestion of a horizon line at (3).  The painting creates the illusion of spatial depth. It teases you into thinking “landscape.”

Since the red squares are not distributed evenly, we get the sensation that they are drifting from one side of the “landscape” to the other.  From left to right? Or from right to left? My sense is that they are blowing to the right.  Try it.

The drifting reds are not round. Imagine them as red dots and the painting becomes a circus.  Imagine them petal shaped and it becomes sentimental. No-no.  The reds have to be angular to add frisson.  Your mind likes edginess.  Keeps you alert and on your toes.

Why would anybody go to the trouble of analyzing a painting at this length, you may say.  Maybe somebody needs to get out more, has too much time on her hands.  Ha,ha. I’m merely taking the time to articulate what is going on in your mind when you’re standing in front of a painting that grabs you.  At museums I often hear one person say to her companion, I like that.  Well, I’m curious why.  Someone will look at a painting for a long time.  Why?  Well, I’m suggestion they’re swept up by the drama.  The drama is in the mind.

Painting by Jane Donaldson, ~30″ x 40″

Oh, and by the way, if you flip  the painting, the drama changes…errrm, dramatically.

RedSquaresFlip

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14MarchPassageLThis is a passage from a larger painting, which will appear at the end of this post.

When  you’re working on a painting, it may happen that you feel you’re getting carried away and that you can’t see the unity in what’s on your canvas.  You love all the parts but you feel that as a whole it  doesn’t hang together. This often happens as a painting draws near completing and the artist becomes self-conscious about having to please an audience.

In that case, you can pull out your camera (or phone) and take pictures of just passages of the painting.  You’ll discover that within your painting there are any number of potential paintings.  This exercise will refresh your eye and your mind.  It will remind you of what you love in a painting and lead you back to focusing on your individual sensibility.  The audience will find itself.

14MarchPainting by Patty Cohen, oil on canvas, 24”x24”

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

Now consider the following passages from Patty’s painting as potential paintings in themselves.  Imagine them as large paintings.

14MarchPassage3 14MarchPassage4 14MarchPassage5

14MarchPassage114MarchPassage614MarchPassage2

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976clipC-72

Even though there are several Katherine Hildens out there, I was lucky to get the domain name. Keep it simple.  For a long time, I actually didn’t want a web site for my fine art at all because I felt elitist about that.  I caved in a couple of months ago, launched the web site and only now realized that I need to let people know about it.  Ta-tah!

I documented the paintings outside in my yard on overcast days so as to avoid glare and shadows.  The glare would be caused by sunlight hitting oil paint and the shadows would be caused by the extreme texture of the painting surfaces in this series.  So, it’s the shots from over-cast days that are shown on the web site.

But I really relish the texture, loved working on these paintings and couldn’t resist shooting details in bright sun light, when the thick impasto cast deep shadows.  Above, a passage from one of my paintings, shot at high noon.

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13StudioGalleryPtg2The exhibit of my Thursday morning painting students will be up for only one more day.  Get on a jet plane, hop in your Chevy, saddle your horse, slide through that worm hole! Don’t miss this show.

Most of these paintings have been analyzed and celebrated in previous posts here and you may find it worth your while to review.

The class is called “What Would Mondrian Do?”

Congratulations to Patty Cohen, Bruce Boyer, Harold Bauer, Lorna Grothe-Shawver and Lauren Myers-Hinkle! It’s a great pleasure for me to be working with you.

13StudioGalleryPtg113StudioGalleryPtg313StudioGalleryPtg5

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13BoyerrGrnSquVaseArrow

I encourage my painting students to work big.  Working on a large canvas helps you think in the modernist mode.  You’re more inclined to work with a big brush and a big brush makes an assertive, juicy, gestural stroke.  When you work small, you’re more inclined to think “decorative,”  more inclined to want to please someone else and more inclined to adhere to what you think are rules.

So, go for the big picture!

Bruce Boyer has definitely been converted to the big canvas.  He paints on 30 x 40.  Yesss!!  Because he works in oil—slow drying—he prepares the underpainting ahead of class.  The tones he chooses for the underpainting are rich sepia browns, reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance, or equally serious deep blues.

Then the shapes appear.  How?  I don’t know, exactly.  I do know, however, that whatever you put down on a canvas will trigger an association.  In the above painting, the green square came first.  The painting takes over.  From step to step, it lets you know what’s needed.  Boyer seems to be investigating the illusion of planes and spacial depth.  Notice that as soon as you think you know where you are, situated in credible space, your attention wonders to some element in the painting that throws your certainty out the window.  Endlessly fascinating.

When, as a painter, you’ve hit upon a game like that, it’s good to keep poking at its possibilities, variations and mysteries.  How does this work?  How does my mind work when I do this?

13BoyerRedSnakeFinalPlusBlueThat’s Boyer’s 40 x 30 painting, starting with bluish-black underpainting.  And here are two earlier stages for you to puzzle over. Notice how your attention moves through the painting.

13BoyerRedSnake113BoyerRedSnakeFinal

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It can get hard.

You loved the colors and shapes in your sketch—in this case, a collage—and then it turns out that the painting process throws all sorts of hurdles in your path.

Caryl C. took her inspiration for this painting from a snippet of collage, about three inches long.  She transferred it to a canvas, four feet long.  Anybody who has ever chosen a color swatch for a bedroom wall knows that we react very differently to a small patch of color than we do to the same color in a large area. When 3 inches are expanded to 4 feet, this changed color perception is magnified accordingly. The act of painting is never just a matter of transferring shapes and colors from a small sketch.  Strange things happen when you paint.  The painting can take off on its own, especially as in this case, when it’s abstract.  You can get to an impasse, where you can neither hold on to your initial concept nor see clearly where you’re going.

At this point, you can regain your bearing if you reverse the process:  you sit down with a sketch pad and you sketch the painting in its present stage—as if it were a view out the window or a still life set up on a table.  This time out can help you see it fresh.

Painting is an adventure.  We’ll see where it takes Caryl.  The adventure can take a few hours, or weeks or months. Years.

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