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Posts Tagged ‘Work In Progress’

GC Myers WIP- Final Stages 2013I am getting closer to completion on the piece that I have been showing over the last week here, a 24″ by 48″ canvas.  After taking the photo shown here, I was able to spot several areas that need small touches to bring it to a possible finish.

The painting has changed considerably since the last stage  I showed of it in the prior post.  The everpresent Red Tree has appeared on a rise overlooking the lake.  The sky and sun (or is it a moon?) have unified in color.  The trees and fields have taken on more color which gives them shape and depth.   The lake that was last seen as a black pool has transformed into a surface of teeming blue brushstrokes.

It may not be very obvious in these photos but I lightened the most distant hills which moved the horizon deeper into the picture and gave the whole piece more depth.  It’s one of those things that doesn’t register when you first look at the painting.  You see the closer images – the lake, the houses, the graveyard, the bridge and roads– or maybe you focus on the sun/moon and the Red Tree stretching up into the sky.  Those are all important elements that make the painting vibrant and certainly are the stars of the show.  But, for me, it’s this extra perception of depth beyond the scene that gives the piece a real sense of wholeness.  This depth attaches the fantastic to reality.

GC Myers WIP Detail 2I spoke in the last post about the graveyard which is a new element for me in my  landscape paintings.  Another new element is located in the area around the covered bridge.  Now, I have used bridges  a number of times in my work and even a few covered bridges have popped up so it’s not that.  It’s the simplified gas station, a one-pumper that recalls rural gas stations of the past where the pump was just off the shoulder of the road.  I don’t know how that came to be in this painting except to say that I wanted a strong distinct element that would balance the graveyard and like the way it breaks up the space in which it is located.  Plus, the addition of the it and the graveyard give this piece a sense of real place, of community, for me.

There is a lot for me to like in this piece.  It’s as strong  and appealing as I had hoped it might be, with great rhythm and flow through its many elements that gives it a sense of harmony.  I had mentioned that I might use this piece for a Name That Painting contest but now I’m not so sure.  I have a title in mind and am strongly leaning toward using it, although I want to mull it over.  However, I would love to hear any other titles you might have in mind.

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GC Myers WIP 2013This the piece I showed earlier in the week, a 24″ by 48″ canvas started last weekend.  As you can see by the image to the left, the composition of the landscape has filled in and the sky has began to take shape.   I have laid in several layers of brushstrokes in the sky but probably won’t go back into it until I do more on the landscape below.  The landscape will set the final tone and feel for the sky and I need more color in it to fully be able to read it.

I sometimes question whether I need to have as many layers of color in the sky because  often in the final surface you can’t even discern any of these layers.  For example, there is a layer with  numerous strokes of violet in the sky here that you probably can’t make out in the picture above.  When this piece is complete, you may only be able to see a tiny  hint of  violet at any point in the sky.

Could I skip that layer and several other similar layers?

Sure.  It may not make a bit of difference to the casual observer.  But for me, it is an integral part of the process, a  slow development of the depth and complexity of the color that I am seeking, a color that I won’t know until it finally shows itself.  That little touch of violet is necessary for me, an important step that, if skipped, would have me thinking that something was amiss in the picture.

DSC_0011 smLeaving the sky, I begin to lay in preliminary colors for the landscape, a variety of blues and greens for the trees and a brownish  putty color for the houses and a bit of red for the roofs. It’s always exciting at this point because the color begins to bring real shape and life to the landscape.  As  each house comes to life with a little color as I work across the canvas, it is like there is a wave of light moving over it.  The whole surface begins to feel animated.

DSC_0014 smAfter that layer, I begin to lay in the surface of the landscape with a multitude of colors, weighing each block of color  as I place it  to get a sense of how it fits into the rhythm of the whole.  I begin to put on what may or may not be final touches on some of the houses, slashes of white that glows on the canvas.  I really am beginning to feel the direction of the painting at this point and have a sense of where it may finish, starting to think how I will handle the blackness of the lake.

GC Myers WIP DetailI know that this sounds goofy and I can’t really explain in any coherent manner, but there’s a good feeling around this painting at this point.  I like it’s strength and think it will show dynamically in its final state.  I really like it so far and like a few of the details in it that are new to my work.  For example, this scene has a small church graveyard  with a road circling it as it overlooks the lake.   Although I sometimes reference death and the past in my work and have a great personal fondness for graveyards, I have never actually portrayed a cemetery in my work.  But I really wanted to show it as part of the community of this painting.  It somehow tempers the piece for me.

So, while the painting is beginning to take shape, there is still a ways to go before I can sit back.  I am still trying to see what the final focus of the piece will be, what will give me a name that fits it.  Perhaps I should ask you for some help.

Shall we have a Name That Painting Contest?

 

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GC Myers Feb 2013 W-I-PThis is a new piece that I started over the weekend.  It’s a fairly large canvas, 24″ by 48″,  gessoed and blackened before I began to lay out the composition in the red oxide that I favor for the underpainting.   I went into this painting  with only one idea, that it have a mass of houses on  a small hilltop.  That is where I began making marks, building a small group of blocky structures in a soft pyramid.   A little hilltop village.  From there, it went off on its own, moving down the hill until a river emerged from the black.   An hour or two later and the river is the end of a chain of lakes with a bridge crossing it.  We’ll see where and what it is when  it finally settles.

I like this part of the process, this laying out of the composition.  It’s all about potential and problem-solving, keeping everything, all the elements that are introduced, in rhythm and in balance.  One mark on the canvas changes the possibility for the next.  Sometimes that possibility is limited by that mark, that brush of paint.  There is only one thing that can be done next.  But sometimes it opens up windows of potential that seemed hidden before that brushstroke hit the surface.  It’s like that infinitesimal moment before the bat hits the pinata and all that is inside it is only potential.  That brushstroke is the bat sometimes and when it strikes the canvas, you never know what will burst from the rich interior of the pinata, which which is the surface of the canvas here.  You hope the treats fall your way.

One of the things I thought about as I painted was the idea of keeping everything in balance.  Balancing color and rhythm and compositional weight, among many other things, so that in the end something coherent and cohesive emerges.  It’s how I view the process of my painting.  Over the years,  keeping this balance becomes easier, like any action that is practiced with such great regularity.  So much so that we totally avoid problems and when we begin to encounter one, we always tend to go with the tried and true, those ways of doing things that are safest and most predictable in their results.

It’s actually a great and safe way to live.  But as a painter who came to it as a form of seeking,  it’s the beginning of the end.  And as I painted, I realized that many of my biggest jumps as an artist came because I had allowed myself at times to be knocked off balance.  It’s when you’re off balance that the creativity of your problem-solving skills are pushed and innovation occurs.

It brings to mind a quote from Helen Frankenthaler that I used in a blogpost  called Change and Breakthrough from a few years back:   “There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about. ”  

 You must be willing to go outside your comfort zone, be willing to crash and burn.   Without this willingness to fail, the work becomes stagnant and lifeless, all the excitement taken from the process.  And it’s that excitement  in the studio that I often speak of  that keeps me going, that keeps the work alive and vitalized.

It’s a simple thing but sometimes, after years of doing this, it slips your mind and the simple act of reminding yourself of the importance of willingly going off balance is all you need to rekindle the fire.

This is a lot to ponder at 5:30 in the morning.  We’ll see what this brings in the near future.  Stay tuned…

 

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GC Myers 2009 Underpainting #@So I’m well into the underpainting of this large 42″ by 60″ canvas, a step that is perhaps the most important in my process.  This part of the process really builds the final composition and gives me guideposts as it grows to what the final product might be.  As I’m painting, I’m taking in parts of the painting that I will later enhance and highlight.

In this top photo I build three layers of landscape beyond the village with a path running through them.  This adds depth and distance into the picture plane and creates an atmosphere of sorts.  It changes what the focus of the painting might end up being.  This addition, in my mind, brings in the possibility that the path running farther into this landscape says something about what might be coming or what has gone.  It’s not all about the static existence of the structures.

GC Myers Underpainting DetailAfter finishing this bit of landscape, I turn my attention to building my sky.  Again using a red oxide, I start a rough cross-hatch and fill the area where the sky will be.  At this point in the process, I am not yet thinking about the way the light will emerge from this sky.  I am merely putting down a base from which the sky will grow .

GC Myers Underpainting SkyTo many painters, this may seem like needless work.  By that I mean there are quicker ways to proceed with this sky to reach a similar final product.  However, for me, this is the way I have adapted that best fits with the way my mind operates.  It is slower in process and forces my mind to be less reactive, allowing me to take in the whole  picture and adjust, bit by bit.  I t just works best for me.

GC Myers 2009 Underpainting FinalMy next step is to finish the area on the right side of the waterway ,in the bottom right quarter of the painting.  I’ve decided I want to continue the road through the house and have some smaller roads off it.  I just felt that area needed a little more visual interest but don’t want it to be too fussy.  As I wrote before, I want the lower parts of the painting to enhance the whole, not dominate.  The only part of the painting that is left blank at this point is the waterway.  I sometimes also use a layer of red oxide in this situation but I’m leaving it blank for the time being to see how the areas above evolve.  They’ll dictate how I will proceed with the waterway.

So I’m basically done with the underpainting.  I have a really good idea at this point how the painting will grow although it can often change, especially in it’s emotional tone or feeling,  beyond this point in the process.  The next step is to start introducing more color and build.  I’ll let you know how it goes…

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