Painting is not the same as illustration. painting is more than image, it is also surface. it has the weight of object; it has presence. for me illustration is to draw something and then fill it in with color and refine details with a mind toward clarity, because it is so often intended to be reproduced. in some ways, painting is about destroying the original drawing and trying to not refine so much. i seldom make a larger acrylic painting on canvas, so i usually ruin the first one remembering how to do it. if i stay focused, by the time i start the second, i am more on my game, have some flow, and have figured out the paint again. I am about halfway finished with the fox painting.
unless you paint seriously everyday, it is difficult to make anything worthwhile. it is like you have to teach yourself how to do it again. i talk with another painter almost daily and we agree that the awkward stages paintings tend to go through are terrifying; it looks like it won't come together and you have to fight your desire to ditch.
its in the problem solving of creating a composition with a pleasing marriage of order and complexity that a path opens up. i paint flat on a table which makes it easy to get too "precious" with the visual elements because i am too close to it. a painting needs to be hung up and stood back from and looked at again and again so you see it in totality and how it looks in space. i am reminded of some photographs of mark rothko sitting before his work waiting for the painting to tell him what to do next. if anything. with the thrasher painting on the left, i went too far, though it has some cool sections where other birds morph in and out of negative space. but i over worked it and have to start a third painting now.
i have been working on these for the entire week, staying late at night alone at the warehouse. i listen to ambient chill internet radio from france or the "drone zone" and i keep my loading dock open until the bugs, drawn to the light, end up embedded in wet paint. when i go home, i am still with the painting(s) and have trouble falling asleep. i really just want to go back to work.
im writing this post because its clear im not going to have these finished by tomorrow. the first painting was the brown thrasher and it has gotten too busy and "illustratey", though there were some important discoveries that i could apply to the second painting, the fox.
I remembered how much i like controlled drips and lots of sheer layers over textured backgrounds i lay in by scraping paint dipped cardboard across the canvas. i also like to etch into wet paint and overlay that area which allows the new color to seep into the grooves.
It is difficult to make a good painting; one that really sings with vitality and is true to my vision of how it should be. It is the hardest thing i do as an artist. painting is a spiritual path in that you dont know what it is you are searching for, but when you find it you know it is right and true. and it is a moment of true contentment. its a time free of anxiety that is filled with the delight of creation.
but it cant be rushed. so if you are reading this my friend, i only have one of the two (almost) ready.
(i did manage to finally finish the two panels below)