Thursday, May 31, 2012

On Painting in Series

In the Red Room Variation 2
Having now completed four paintings in this series, and working on the design for number five, a whole new set of problems begins to arise. How do I continue in a theme, using several "givens" yet create variety and maintain interest (my own and the viewers)?

On the list of things to do to work in series is ANALYSIS. As I work on this project I keep coming back to the need to analyze everything I am doing. I need to carefully analyze the botanical shapes of real flowers in order to work toward abstraction. I need to analyze the images that actually take shape my canvas for line quality, color, texture, feeling and style, and, because this is a series, visual consistency.  Very challenging. Very interesting.

The deeper I go in the series, the more important it becomes to plan ahead. I sketch frequently and try lots of variations before I move to the canvas. However, in spite of the careful planning, I am reminded constantly that paint does not behave like a pen, so the results are not necessarily what I start out to create. So, now I am learning to add more detail and pay more attention to the sketches I prepare and analyze all the things I want to accomplish in the piece: the shapes - are they big enough to paint as separate entities? Are they distinct from each other? Does it matter? The colors - I am working on a red background and limiting my palette so that I use the same paints in all the paintings. So, How do the colors play off the background? How do they work together?  Also, (and one of the best parts of the process) is discovering how the mixes from the limited palette create fabulous and harmonious results.

The big picture:  With now four pieces in the series, I need to compare how the shapes and colors and composition of each new piece works with the existing paintings as part of a whole. I also find that as I complete a new piece, I want to go back to the earlier piece to improve it with something new I have just learned. Variation 2 - above is still in process, but I now know what I need to do to complete it - that's progress.

So, to answer a question asked on this blog, has the process helped to narrow my focus? Absolutely, I know where I want to go, I feel more and more comfortable doing this work, because each repetition provides practice, skill building and a better understanding of how to put a painting together. But also, not at all, because the more I paint, the more I experiment, the more I analyze what I want to do, the broader my imaginings become - I keep seeing over the horizon to what's next ... we will see.