17 March 2009

Miniature Art continued . . .

"Garden Window"
3" x 4.5"
oil pastel

Another diminutive piece to add -- of course, there are others but my time to scan is a bit strapped these days! Working with these smaller pieces has made me see things a bit differently. Now when I'm looking at a large artwork, my eye tends to drift around the image seeking out, almost wrestling out sections that create their own pictorial plane.

This weekend I was painting with watermedia on heavy weight paper -- Nujabi -- which is a coarse, handmade Japanese watercolor paper, about 200 lbs. I was trying to paint a still life. After about 4 tries and 3 hours later, I gave up in total frustration.

Why? After pondering the mess I had created, I realized that I do not like still life. I don't have still life works in the house, I just do not like that static, lifeless image staring back at me. Also, the light was rigged and the flowers were "sad" to say the least. Everything seemed to be working against me.

On Sunday I sat on the deck, soaking up the sunshine after this long winter and didn't go back inside until about 4:00pm. I dragged the dining room table up to a north window, brought out the paints again and decided to paint what I like, what I continually seek when driving, etc. -- a horizon line with a distant perspective. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that "a healthy eye demands a horizon" and I think he was right!

Several hours later when the light had faded, I had several small(ish) pieces done, mainly in acrylics treated as watercolor. I might go back into some with oil pastels or pastels and continue working the surface. One of my favorite artists is Helen Frankenthaler -- actually she is the best -- and was re-reading about her works on paper, many of which are acrylic with oil pastel or pastel markings, which is what sparked the re-negotiation of acrylic on Sunday.

Then, oddly enough, to come back to my point about seeking out these miniscule "paintings within paintings," I took a mat with a 2" x 3.5" opening and began moving it around the picture plane. Amazing! Within the larger paintings I could find several hidden gems, some landscapes, some more abstract. So there may be one or two larger pieces I will "trash" so as to rescue the smaller pieces that lay within.

never, ever give up . . . the paint, the surface, the marks -- all will tell (eventually) . . .

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