Sunday, March 3, 2013

Process: layers and erasures

A colour study of yellow roses. 14"x11". Oil on linen. 2013
I was recently asked by +Richard Hoefer on Google+ about the distinction I make between "studies" and "paintings", especially in my Daily Paintworks introduction,
where it is exploited to justify a difference in price ranges.

This distinction, albeit very real for me, is by no means straightforward and simplistic. That's why I decided to write down an illustrated story of this particular recent study in yellows, as a (part of) extended answer to Richard's question. 

A colour study of yellow roses. Detail.
I call it a study, because it was done from life, 
in one quick session, with complete focus on the visual stimulus, which happened to be this bunch of yellow roses I had been given the day before. At this level, within the conscious part of the process, there was no intervention of anything else, just the interplay between colors in nature and on the canvas, between the variety of brushwork and the rhythms of rose petals.  

A color study of yellow roses. Detail
At another level, though, this kind of process tends to reflect the painter's actual state of mind (and soul) at the time of actual painting, more directly, in a more raw and rough way, than a painting guided by a conscious, mindful, intent, where the emotional, human content would be reflected on, distilled, crystallized, generalized to some extent. I won't tell you what it was here, though, even though I both see it in the painting and remember it vividly: I am too close to this work still to judge where this happened successfully here, but if it hasn't, a verbose description won't help either. 

Orange lilies. 14"x11". 2010.
And there is still another layer: the colour study of yellow roses convers an earlier colour study, of orange lilies. Its first stage shown on the left (2010) was also done from life, in the framework of a similar process. At the time, I was in the "stealth-mode", studying (or rather re-studying) painting in nearly complete isolation, not showing my attempts anywhere, let alone releasing them for sale. If a study was considered complete and marginally successful, I used to just leave it alone for a while, to judge it later with a more "objective" eye. 

A colour study of orange lilies. 2010-2011
In this particular case, this later review revealed a lot of technical issues neglected before, or rather "invisible" before. There are two aspects to this "invisibility": one is the heat of the process, of the intimate connection with the work; the other is my learning curve, which teaches me to see more. Here on the right, is my 2011 attempt to save what I thought good about the earlier study; the stage that lies directly underneath the yellow roses shown above and lends them some of its lighter color harmony.

So this, in short, is a story of one study. This particular canvas can hardly take any more rework: too heavy texture, too many layers and erasures, both literally and metaphorically.     

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