Monday, July 11, 2011

wherein I kill them and try to bring them back

Unexpected things are somehow both the delight and the despair of painting.

When I start I usually only have a vague sense of where I want to go; just mix paint, put brush to surface, and find out what will happen. It's tricky, this feeling of harnessing energy without really controlling it -- when I'm in the middle of painting, it seems best to let the horses run wild and free, but when I step back I think, those horses DO NOT know what they're doing.

So, I had gotten to this point:

And then I lightened the yellow a bit and started closing in on the bones, softening the fields of color and creating some more texture. But the orange went from being nice little accidental blips to purposeful blobs that stood out too much and made sense too little:

So I killed them.

I lightened them even more, covered them up. I tightened the background around the bones until I had all but obliterated the swaying rhythm from those first layers. Each panel looked like a still, cloudy day. With a bone hanging in the middle.

Well, that's not what I meant to do, I thought. How did the paint get away from me like that?

So I tried, Mary Shelley style, to bring them back to life.

I mixed up some soft gray and brought the bones back into some kind of context:

Not bad, I thought. At least next time I sit down to work on them, I'll have somewhere to go. There's a pulse.

But guess what? I killed them even more!

This means they can only get better, right? RIGHT? Dear god, we can't have these paintings raging all over the country-side, terrifying families and seeking refuge in the mountains because of their disfigurement.

I'll post more pictures soon, and hopefully recover my trust-in-the-process in the meantime.


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