I started this painting over the weekend.
In this painting I tried to expand my skill set and experience in three ways:
- Trying something much larger than normal;
- See if I can master grading a yellow colour from light to very dark;
- Experiment with an abstract painting without any clearly defined lines or shapes;
The painting was coming along nicely until an ambivalent and slightly irritated attitude in one single session spoiled it. It is doomed to be cut up and recycled. I am disappointed but I moved on. Here is what I learned:
- I have not yet mastered how to paint in oil directly over an acrylic gesso. In one place, at the top toward the upper right corner the imprimatura came clean off and left a bright spot that I cannot seem to cover whatever I do. For now, I am resorting to mounting canvas on board – it seems to suit me better;
- Be very careful of white! Like the brilliant teacher Mark Carder shows in this video, once white gets into the mix it pollutes everything. Watch the video – it can save you from lots of frustration! You can see this with the opaque, garish yellow coming in from the top right – before I put white in there, the painting glowed with translucent golden yellow (Indian Yellow – currently my favourite colour)
- Paint darks thinly (I knew this but did the opposite anyway!). With my bad attitude I just dabbed on thick patches of blue into the dark areas – up to that point rich and deep. The result is several dead, matt patches that look off. You can see this in the upper left corner and other places.
Looking at this now, I am not 100% convinced it is doomed. I may leave it around for a week or two and see if I feel like re-working it.
While painting this I listened to Zbigniew Preisner’s “Lacrimosa” and in my mind played the scene from the movie The Tree of Life. If you have not seen this – take three minutes and watch this clip, you may like it.
The universe is stupendously mysterious in its combination of extreme violence, utter serenity and beauty. Pushing deep into the heart of a painting while working is perhaps one way to explain this to myself, albeit without words.
In the great book The Universe Story, I looked up this paragraph:
…we now know that the interiority of any mammal, for instance, that which corresponds to parental care, is the result of a long and complex process of creativity beginning with the star-making powers of the Milky Way. Walt Whitman did not invent his sentience, nor was he wholly responsible for the form of feelings he experienced. Rather, his sentience is an intricate creation of the Milky Way, and his feelings are an evocation involving thunderstorms, sunlight, grass, history, and death. Walt Whitman is a space the Milky Way fashioned to feel its own grandeur.
I always hesitate to post my own poems – I am a rank amateur at poetry and couldn’t care less about punctuation and meter. But I felt this poem was fitting, since it deals with another universe in which I play a role – my compost heap:
Toward the Light
When the black bin was half full
with limp salad, rotten bananas
and orange peelings
I filled it with a layer of
dark loamy compost.
Its dark was a tapestry of things that were alive.
And the worms floated down
into the dark below
– moving cautiously into a new continent.
And in their cells – who can say not –
there was the same gladness
of a child running with a kite.
His face turned for a moment toward the light.
Thanks for visiting. I hope you are happy and content in this day.