I usually consider that spring has arrived when our neighbor’s gorgeous saucer magnolia tree blooms, and that happened about February 7th this year — a bit early, I think. That’s also usually the same time that the redbuds start to bloom, and they bloomed beautifully, but now the blooms are gone. I didn’t even take any pictures of those this year, for no good reason(!).
But it has seemed to be cooler this spring than other years of late, and I know some of you have still been getting some snow! So, in celebration of a gorgeous spring for everyone (in this hemisphere), here’s another new painting.
OK, so most of them are small or very small little watercolors on paper. I am trying to do one every day, but sometimes, the larger works (and life, too) consume me completely. Still, I find doing one of these almost every day to be a very good exercise. I have to keep finding new images, new arrangements, new palette choices to put on paper. Invention happens. 🙂
A little confection for Easter.
This year (so far), I am experimenting with lots of ways of finding images and lots of ways of painting them.
This is the first of my “Fragments” series — favorite snippets from larger works repainted on smaller canvases. I think I prefer this in the horizontal orientation. They look like snuggling friends to me (I see lots of characters in my abstract paintings. Do you?). What I was exploring here was painting in very thick paint over previous layers of thick paint in different colors. I still like it better in the larger painting this was drawn from (“Comin’ Through!”), as I think some even cooler brush accidents happened in that one, but this one is sweet, too.
From earlier this month — I almost had to throw this one away, but I think I more or less saved this watercolor with the judicious addition of a bit of gouache…and more stuff!
I am getting very excited about my upcoming solo show. I’m painting like a madman, and I’m beginning to be very happy with some of the results.
When I made arrangements months ago to do this show, I had no fear about showing my work, as I had just come off of a long period of intense and successful creation, and was (and still am) very happy with the work I had created.
But I was ready to move on to the next thing creatively, though I wasn’t sure what it was.
So I began this year by doing lots of tiny sketches and many small paintings, searching for a satisfying direction. I attempted a few larger paintings, but they went awry. At a workshop, I created some new work in encaustic, though in the end I wasn’t happy with most of them. To date, I have completed about 70 pieces this year — which is a lot for me — though most of them are sketches and small paintings.
Then, finally, the realization that color is the “thing” for me, and as long as I’m true to that, I’m happy, and my work succeeds. The other issues – the other elements that go into an abstract painting (shape, form, surface quality, etc.) I continue to think about and work on as well.
I was in a class several years ago in which another student complained about painting abstractly because she didn’t know where to stop. She said when she worked representationally, at least she knew when she was done — for her, it was when the painting looked like the thing she was representing. Of course, it’s not as simple as that for many representational painters, but often it seems when one is just starting to draw and paint, success is measured by how close one’s piece gets to looking like the object or scene one is depicting.
It’s so different when you give up representation. The answer to the question, “how do you know when you’re done?” becomes more elusive.
Is it when you achieved what you set out to achieve or perhaps when you discovered something you didn’t know you were looking for?
For me, it’s a bit of both — I like to keep my goals pretty loose so that I can explore an area of the process of painting that fascinates me (like color), and still discover something new in that process.
Sometimes — in a glorious moment — a piece just comes together. Everything seems to work — the colors sing, the composition works, the texture and brushstrokes are interesting and well-integrated. One more stroke and you could really lose it.
At other times, there’s something not quite right that keeps nagging until you figure out how to make it work. I had a wonderful moment yesterday when I reworked a small painting from earlier this year that never really sparkled, and suddenly, I got it right! Oh, the thrill!
Sometimes though, I lose interest in a piece before I feel I am done…and then it may languish in my studio until I regain interest and work on it some more, possibly finishing it…or it may just be added to the stack of unfinished pieces.
What about you? How do you know when your piece is finished?