Sunday, August 16, 2020

Those Insects, That Paintbrush

American Lady and Common Buckeye. 9x12 inch acrylic painting by Ken Januski. Copyright 2020 Ken Januski

I'm not sure how many months it's been since I stopped printing and started acrylic painting. If I weren't in the middle of using the Blogger interface to write this I'd check.  And I actually am a bit curious myself since  I think that change occurred some time after Covid-19 stay at home orders.

In any case I keep being tempted to return to print but that temptation  is overwritten by the desire to keep painting. At top is  a newly finished painting  of an American Lady and Common Buckeye. It is based on photographs I took. But as you can probably see I wasn't too limited by that. At least I hope that's the case. Between covid, hot and humid, or just plain rainy weather I've spent little time in 2020  working outside. When I bought a number of pre-stretched canvases to paint  on I actually envisioned working on some in our backyard. It's almost September and no  such luck so far.

Because I've felt a great degree of freedom in returning to paint, and painting in acrylic I've been very tempted to move from birds to insects, just to see if a bit of freedom with them might also make for results I like. That is certainly true with the American Lady painting. I'm quite happy with  it.

The Stream Blue painting was begun over and month ago, and stopped soon after, as I mentioned  in my last post. I had some freshness in it and I wanted to keep it, regardless of what detail I might be losing. One thing about damselflies is that they are very small, and their primary shape, that of a toothpick, is hard to get all that excited about. It's  also hard to get very painterly with. 'Hmm, which way shall I  flourish  the  brush on this  toothpick?' But  after finishing the American Lady painting  I decided that I  wanted to see what I could do with adding some detail(which is about the only way to identify  dragonflies, especially damselflies) while still keeping it a painting, not an illustration.

Below are the results so far. I should add that there was a flurry of damselflies here when I saw them, mainly a large collection of  males pouncing on the few females who arrived at Papermill Run. You almost need binoculars to even notice the frenzied behavior. Without them you might think that you're just looking  a  calm, almost bucolic stream. I wanted to get that sense of frenzied activity in as well. For me that means that there is just going to have to be some abbreviation in the painting. Painting every single pair along with all the solo males in detail might show a lot of detail but it  certainly wasn't going to represent the experience of seeing this.

So this is my attempt so  far. I'm not sure how much further I'll go. I have added more detail on the two primary damselflies but I'm reluctant to do much more.

Stream Bluets at Papermill Run. 9x12 inch acrylic painting in progress by Ken Januski. Copyright 2020 Ken Januski.

One additional thing I've been thinking about as I look at my old prints and think about new ones is that printmaking  is mainly about lines and edges. Not being a printmaker or  having much training in it I'm sure more experienced printmakers will say: what about lithography, what about this or  that? I think  it is true that lithography  comes close to painting  and certainly gets away from line. If I had a printmaking studio with all the equipment for printing lithos I'd  probably give it a try. I don't. The fact is that most of my printmaking, especially moku hanga, is primarily linear.

There's nothing wrong with  that. And I'm certainly happy with what  I've done. But as I go  along painting insects and birds as I'm currently doing I can't begin to see how I can translate them into prints or moku hanga in particular.

But  I've never worried about such things. Go with the artistic flow, and be thankful if  you have one! For now it's Those Insects and That Paintbrush.

I just looked at this outside of Blogger. It looks like crap. Thank you Google and Blogger. I'm sorry but I don't have time at the moment to go back and try to fix all the bad HTML that the new Blogger  interface so kindly forced me into using.