Sunday, January 22, 2012

Slouching Toward Realism

Well maybe. When I started this painting I thought I'd head in a more abstract direction. And I did for awhile. But today I took a step in the opposite direction. I had left different color planes in the water so that there was a largely abstract subdivision of space. I llked this and I think it may be why I thought of Matisse's 'Bathers by a River' when I started.

But I also knew it wasn't realistic. It bothered me a bit. Today after adding more details to the head of each heron as well as to the painted turtle I decided to try to unify the water. Maybe the realistic direction of the detail on herons and turtle was contagious. In any csse for the time being we're headed in a more realistic direction.

As I said earlier my old abstract paintings always meandered like this before finally settling down. It's always been the way I've worked, though media like watercolor and linocut allow only so much meandering and change of direction. In the first you eventually end up with mud; in the latter you've cut away all the lino and have little left except the bare white of the printed paper. Oil and acrylic though lend to nearly infinite variation. That is both good and bad. One thing I am reminded of is that on a large canvas it gets expensive! Paint, and more paint, and more paint....

I'm not thrilled with the expense. But I am thrilled by working in this manner again. When I first started this blog I often wrote that I felt my work was no longer very ambitious. I was too busy learning realism and birds to be ambitious. But now I'm more comfortable and I like the excitement of trying to do larger, more ambitious paintings.

They can also entail more mental strain though at times. So it's good to know that warmer weather is slowly winding its way here and field sketching will soon be available again. It's the perfect break from ambitious paintings.

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