The thoughts and works of a caffeine addicted artist!
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Sometimes decisions, strokes, emotions come so strong that they betray reality and all that we believe it to be, as if another force is behind them, driving them, compelling us to act without question or reason. Yesterday I stepped into my beautiful new studio with the intention to paint! My canvas selection was rapid, I found myself tearing the film from a 12x16" chunky canvas before I had even contemplated the idea of actually choosing a size or even a subject, within moments it was upon my easel, staring at me, almost daring me to cover it's snowy white surface. As a reaction, I sketched out a single rose, using a reference photo taken in the garden, and with a smug grin, left the building. I returned much later, less decisive and unable to select a palette for my studio premiere....Was that the canvas I could hear laughing sarcastically in my direction? Ninety minutes later I popped back into the house for a coffee fix as my new coffee machine has yet to arrive. Returning to the studio and glancing back at the fruits of my labour, I felt the canvas had won. The depth was there; structurally the rose was coming along nicely but something was missing. I sat with my coffee for a while and studied the piece, debating what could fix it, then, with my last mouthful of pure, black, unadulterated caffeine I decided the missing element was "emotion" and made the decision to end the lifeless journey before I got caught up trying to add something that simply wasn't there. A painting without perspective can be "abstract", a painting without line can be "pointillist" but a painting without heart is only ever half a painting.
Before brushing gesso over the whole thing I decided to make use of it and perform a little experiment. For the three years I have been painting I have worked in my dining room, mostly in the midnight hours due to insomnia, with two wall lights for company. I learned very early on not to use yellow hues until daylight after applying a lemon wash to a watercolour piece at 2am before retiring, waking to find it had developed into an almost fluorescent lemon sherbet over night. I took out a couple of yellow hues from my acrylic box and applied them to the multicoloured rose before turning out the lights and locking up for the night slightly disappointed at my first studio efforts but hopeful that tomorrow would bring inspiration and, like a magnet, attract all the elements that make a piece exciting and passionate.
This morning I was happy to find that the yellows hadn't raved in my absence and all in daylight was much as I left it under the halogen bulbs a few hours previously….something positive from something lost, those moments are so enjoyable.
With my morning coffee in one hand and a brush in the other I began painting out the rose with red iron oxide, a colour choice that came as naturally as the canvas choice the day before. I was distracted halfway through by my youngest who had found a huge toad by the pond outside the studio and, wearing a smile as big as his face, had come to show me his fat, slimy “treasure”. Returning to the easel I decided to pull out the white gesso and a palette knife to add a textured ground to the canvas. I slid the knife loosely over the surface and, when all remnants of the rose had faded, I left to explore the garden with my brave pirate. Exploring finished, I visited the easel one more time before taking my Sons bowling. This time I stood before it and just ran my hands lightly over the damp gesso…perhaps trying to feel that emotion that eluded me the night before?