Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Variations on a Theme

In the Red Room, Variation One
I am now in a new painting class, Painting in Series. This feels like a personal gift - just what I need. As I wrote several times in the past, I have been struggling with finding a voice and a direction. This class specifically addresses these issues. My assignment is to create at least five paintings on a theme, repeat some elements, and explore where this process takes me.  

When I knew I would be taking this class I began to think about what I wanted to paint, and think and think. Outside my window, flowers are blooming in a riot of colors and shapes. In my sketchbooks, I find dozens of random drawings of flowers, my photography features flowers and plants from every place I have ever visited, and from the gorgeous gardens of my green-thumbed neighbors. The paintings I have done that seem to get the most positive attention are of flowers - was this my theme? And how about abstraction?

In our first class, Illa Guttman (teacher extraordinaire) provided at set of criteria to follow when determining a theme. The list included this statement, "when working in series, Paint what you like best because ... one needs a strong emotional attachment to the subject matter.  ...  It's really great if the subject continuously feeds your emotions and makes you feel good. Plus you never get bored with a subject if you always paint what you like best." I guess that was my answer - I am never bored with flowers. So, how to begin.

First, find a title. Then, the list says to "find an obsession." I did, day and night, pencil in hand or staring at the clouds. I considered how to simplify flower shapes. I drew the flowers I saw, seeking geometric shapes that would allow me to simplify the images. Then I began to play with shapes alone to build them into flowers, nextI tried putting them together in different ways. One other criteria I kept in mind was the size and shape of the paintings I was going to create. And always, I was thinking about color. Finally, several decisions made, and an open mind to what might appear on the canvas, I began to paint - combining all these ideas, and listening to the small voice in my head that keeps repeating "red walls." 

So, my series is called Variations on a Theme: In the Red Room. This is the first of three paintings I have completed. Is it 16"x20" on canvas in acrylics. More to come ....