New Painting: Energy Renewal

"Energy Renewal" Oil on canvas 24" x 24" © 2012 Marilyn Fenn
“Energy Renewal” Oil on canvas 24″ x 24″ © 2012 Marilyn Fenn

I started this painting last week, based on the sketch below.  The sketch itself is based on a sculpture in tan canvas and black wire by one of my favorite sculptors, Lee Bontecou.

I haven’t really developed a set way to get started with the work I’ve been doing for the past 6 months.  I usually have a period of getting very lost while developing my composition, and then have to paint my way out.

This time, I came up with some sketches to serve as the basis for the paintings’ compositions.  (I have another one planned  as well).  Then, I give myself the freedom to allow other things to occur as I work.   I may also try another, larger version of this, based on a more accurate interpretation of the sketch.

"Not-So-Daily Sketch - 2012-004," Ink and colored pencil, 6" x 6", © 2012 Marilyn Fenn
“Not-So-Daily Sketch – 2012-004,” Ink and colored pencil, 6″ x 6″, © 2012 Marilyn Fenn

 

New Painting: Quest for Magic

"Quest for Magic" Oil on canvas 12" x 12" 2011 Marilyn Fenn
“Quest for Magic” Oil on canvas 12″ x 12″ 2011 Marilyn Fenn

The greatest work of an artist is the history of a painting.
– Alberti

The title of this painting could embody a state of grace that many people seek throughout their lives. It could symbolize the wishes that most artists aspire to obtain through their creations. Or it could represent my recent series of abstract paintings. In this case, it represents another painting in the series through which I am beginning to achieve a long sought after enchantment with my process and pleasure in the final result.

Every painting, and perhaps especially abstract paintings, start out as a journey with the destination unknown. The thrill of exploration is a great part of the goal. What can I make my colors and brushstrokes do? How do I push the paint around in interesting ways? How can I make an intriguing composition out of nothing but colored oil paint and a few shapes?

These first few works in the series are small and slow, and I’m still finding my footing, but I’m really looking forward to more and larger and more confident works. I’m thrilled to have reached this part of my journey, and excited about the rest of the trip. I hope it is a long one!

New Painting: Strange Attractors

"Strange Attractors" Oil on canvas 12" x 12" © 2011 Marilyn Fenn
“Strange Attractors” Oil on canvas 12″ x 12″ © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

This is one of my favorite paintings from my latest series of abstracts; this one is from last weekend. These new works are very process-oriented, though of course, I do aim for a final happy outcome. This series is primarily about paint: pushing it over, around, through, beside, until I’m satisfied with the composition, shapes, colors, brushstrokes, and amount of paint. I do love the soft palette I achieved in this painting!

New Painting: Molecular Vibrations

“Molecular Vibrations” Oil on canvas 12″ x 12″ © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

Of all the paintings I’ve done, this may be my favorite painting so far. I love the colors, the nice thick paint, and the general happiness of this painting. It evolved from the work I did on the last five abstract paintings. I’m really enjoying pushing thicker and slicker paint into, over, around, and through previous brushstrokes, and the wonderful color mixing that happens on the canvas. Working this way is going to be fun!

New Painting: Trial Separation

"Trial Separation" Oil on canvas 12" x 12" © 2011 Marilyn Fenn
“Trial Separation” Oil on canvas 12″ x 12″ © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

I have a few paintings from a couple years ago that never really worked, so I painted over one of them a couple months ago, but never got it to a finishing point.  Last week, I reworked the painting one more time.  It’s a bit rough and looks slightly different and much better from a distance, so I may either re-work it (again) or paint what I like from it in a larger more intentional work.  However, some of my friends like it just like it is, so I have decided to live with it for a bit first.

New Painting: It’s Awash

"It's Awash" Oil on canvas 12" x 12" © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

I love how the visual ideas one entertains in the course of being an artist may lay dormant for a time, and then return as a nice surprise.  🙂

Last Wednesday night, with a head full of visual ideas, I entered the studio and started trying to get those ideas out on canvas.  This is the first of 3 paintings I did in less than 24 hours.  While this is not exactly what I envisioned I would be creating, so far, I’m very happy with the direction.

Painting abstractly, or non-objectively, is a much more intuitive process for me than the planned paintings from life.  I start with some loose ideas for shapes, colors, and composition, begin adding some patches of paint, and then follow the brushes to see where they lead.  In this case, they led back to some similar imagery I was exploring 2 years ago (see “Alien Kitchen” and Twenty-Sixth Day Plus 100″ from the Hot Hot Summer series of Works on Paper).

I don’t think these paintings would have taken shape the way they did were it not also for my 2-month excursion back into representational paintings.  I learned a lot from seriously concentrating on making brushstrokes (and I still have a lot left to learn), but I was champing at the bit to get back to abstraction.  In just over 4 days, I’ve now created seven new small abstract paintings and started a couple of others.  I’ll be posting one a day unless something (like work, illness or social life) causes me to take a break.

I intend to continue painting my new abstracts alla prima, or “all at once,” as I did with most of my recent still life paintings.  What this means is the painting is started and finished in one painting session, while the paint is still wet.  It lends a freshness to the work, in that my visual ideas of that day are transmitted to the painting in that session, but more importantly—at least when working in oil—the paints and paint strokes flow very well into, over, around, and through all the other paint strokes on the canvas.  The other main option is to work in layers (“indirect painting”), where new paint is laid down over dry paint from a previous session, rather than becoming physically integrated with the earlier applications of paint.  Plenty of artists work by painting in layers, and it’s an equally valid way of working, but alla prima is my preference.

New Painting: Fifteen Minutes for a Quarter

"Fifteen Minutes for a Quarter" Oil on canvas 5" x 5" © 2011 Marilyn Fenn
“Fifteen Minutes for a Quarter” Oil on canvas 5″ x 5″ © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

This is the third and final little rubber robot toy; this one is kind of a speed racer.  He was both hard and fun to paint.  He’s very small and yet full of so much detail, but the detail is so tiny, it’s hard to discern.  His little face is actually not very detailed and kind of strange-looking.  Each of these little guys is in fact a slightly different color; one is more bright green, one more army green, and this one is in-between bright and army green.

I aimed again for looseness with these last two paintings; it continues to be a struggle to overcome 20 years of painting habits, but I’m not unhappy with these.

New Painting: It Was This Big!

"It Was This Big!" Oil on canvas 5" x 5" © 2011 Marilyn Fenn
“It Was This Big!” Oil on canvas 5″ x 5″ © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

This is the second of three little rubber robot toys that have accompanied me on my desktop computers for at least the past 15 years.  (Don’t tell the other two, but this guy is my favorite of the three).  His posture kind of reminds me of Kevin Kline’s character in “Dave,” hence the title.