Thursday, March 1, 2012

the struggle, part II

There is No Easy Way Out.
Hard Work Is The Only Formula.     I sound like my dad.
     I am struggling with this new set of paintings. In my mind's eye the finished pieces will be fresh and instantaneous but I am finding that achieving this effect is anything but quick. I sit hunched over these tiny heads captured in full sunlight - trying to balance the lights and darks, limiting myself to minimal "layers" (glazes) so that the colors can stay translucent. In attempting to have the highlights appear to glow it's necessary to push the darks down in value, but then they tend to get "heavy."
     This set of images came to me while I was zooming in on a painting of mine to check the resolution in my photo editing program. Unexpectedly there appeared on my screen just the corner of a head and an iota of blue background and some sweepy strokes of wispy hair entangled in the sunlight. It was perfect. My work had suddenly been simplified for me. This was all I was trying to render, the beauty of life in the sun: beings connected to their surroundings. However, in my effort to render a full figure, this main point had become a sideline thought, "oh... and look at the hair!" Suddenly I could focus in on just the head and the play of light on hair and angled face, pare the image down so that there isn't a fully realized setting or a complete figure to render; find a way to be quicker, fresher, and maybe even produce more art... But the bringing of something new into the world is anything but easy. And if it's to be ART, then quicker is never an option.
     I've done this one image three times - and I think I'm going to have to do it again.
First try - I'm happy with the hair but once the
face was obviously overworked, I continued to
experiment with layering color for different effects.
Second attempt - this time I limited myself to
just two colors: Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna.
I've used this combo before to great effect, but
it still got overworked.

Third try - I brought the full palette back and
managed to keep it from the brink, but I'm still
not completely satisfied with the result.  
     When the third drawing was complete I planned to be VERY brave - with the first wash being an intense value, and then just keeping the second wash the warm skin tones - and only slightly tweaking the final details - three layers would be the best - but no matter how I try, it seems to move into five, then tweaks, and I sit there for HOURS going forward and back between warm and cool in the darks, mix more ultramarine in... nope, too blue... more alizarin, nope... more Naples - searching for the right balance of shadow depth and glowing skin. I squint to judge the value range, then look away and focus on the ceiling to let my eyes re-balance their internal color processing. I lean back to stretch, warm-up my cold fingers near the light-bulbs in my swingarm lights, have a sip of tea, then hunch some more - it's a constant push-me-pull-you between freshness and depth of value - more pigment in the mix... more water... test... squint... more pigment. 
     I've overworked this image again... Maybe I won't be able to achieve the freshness AND the value range with watercolor... 

No comments:

Post a Comment