I had a great crit with artist friends yesterday. There are 3 of us who have been meeting every few months for several years, but we hadn’t been able to meet in about a year-and-a-half. It was so wonderful to get together again and see the major strides we’ve all made in that time.
Our work is so different from each other! One artist’s work is figurative and all about ideas, with social commentary and great humor. She’s working in collages and prints a lot right now and has a piece in this year’s ArtPrize in Grand Rapids. Her work keeps maturing and the printmaking aspects are so beautiful: the textures, the colors, the delightful offbeat compositions, and imagery. So good!
My other friend’s work has generally focused on the sky: clouds and landscapes, and he paints in an Old Masters style with layers and layers of glazes. The finishes on his paintings are incredible. His new work is a real departure from the work he is known for: he wants to get away from referencing the Old Masters by working more alla prima, in deeper hues emphasizing the bowl of the sky as one looks directly up, with bits of buildings or trees in silhouette around the edges. I love the abstract shapes of the silhouetted bits. I’m very excited by his new direction and look forward to seeing it develop as he works bigger again.
They haven’t seen my new work before, and I’m thrilled to say, they both feel I’m really onto something here. In this work, I wanted to get away from the potential boredom of circles I was stuck on for a while. I am aiming to push the compositions to the edges, beyond that center space I had become too comfortable with, which had become too static and predictable.
I am trying to create shapes that are made of more-or-less singular brushstrokes so that the shape and the brushstroke are one. I’m also pushing the colors more than I have — sometimes in softer directions, sometimes harsher; more discordant or more harmonious, sometimes darker or lighter; all while trying to use only 6 or 8 tube colors. These works are in acrylic as well, the medium with which I am least experienced and least comfortable. 🙂
And finally, as one of my friends noted, the move back from square to rectangular canvases seems to give a better arena for good compositions to happen. Both of my friends had some great notions about how to proceed on a large piece I got stuck on before being distracted by all the remodeling efforts.
I really value my art crits with these great artists and even greater friends. I always learn so much from their very different perspectives.
One thing I learned yesterday is that I cannot simply make a large painting of a smaller study, as my process is one of discovery, in which this bit of paint is on top of that bit of paint, and much of the beauty of the final piece has to do with the layers of history in the painting that, while you may not see all of them once the work is “done,” all previous bits still add so much to the overall piece. Trying to blow it up bigger only makes for a facile painting — too easy with no struggle and no discovery.
Do you have crits with artists in your area? How valuable do you find them?