17 April 2010

Go to the Mat!

How many times have we heard about the benefits of cropping and using an L-frame to find compositions? Lots and lots, but do we practice what we know?

This is a "short" weekend for me. I have an annual conference to drive to on Sunday, plus all the preparations of laundry, packing and such. So today is my only "free" day but too short to really begin anything meaningful -- i.e. messy!

Because I have made my plans for an Open Studio in the fall, I decided to begin sifting and sorting through piles of paintings, mostly on paper, to see what I have on hand and what needs to be matted and framed in the coming months. I have watercolors, aqua media, mixed media, collages and monotypes to sort through. But believe me, not all of these are what might be termed winners. Many are 3/4 of the way painted before I lost interest and put aside with the intention of returning . . . good intentions but often forgotten because I'm on to a new project.

So what does one do? Go to the mat! as my son used to say in his wrestling days. Absolutely. Let's see what I did with this one painting that truly was a playful exercise in moving colors around on the paper purely because I wanted to see the flow of colors, the slow crawling across paper, the effect of 2 or 3 colors merging --

Long Climb
5" x 7" acrylic washes on Fabriano watercolor paper

Summer Pond
5" x 7" acrylic washes on Fabriano watercolor paper

Approaching Storm
5" x 7"
acrylic washes on Fabriano watercolor paper

The larger piece was about 12 x 16 and, in its entirety, too busy and overpowering. These three are smaller and the mat I used was an 8 x 10 with a 5 x 7 opening. I moved the mat around the surface of the larger work until I found compositions that intrigued me. I then cut them up and will simply leave as matted and ready for framing.

I also have mats, custom ordered from Documounts (wonderful work and great prices), that are 5 x 7 with a 2.5 x 3.25 opening, and these I plan for a series of "mini-works."

Every spring I travel up to the Paradise City ArtFest in Northampton, Massachusetts. Paradise City also travels to the Boston area, Philadelphia and Miami, and is just one step below the Smithsonian Craft Show . The artists and artisans that are featured in P.C. are amazing, and one leaves at the end of the day almost breathless. But I noted that many artists and photographers offer smaller works, often matted only, that are affordable and just as beautiful as their larger works. So that's my plan for the fall -- part of it, anyway.

Again I cannot emphasize how helpful a mat is when contending with artwork that is just not coming out as you originally envisioned. Let it go, come back to it -- but armed with the mat! Similarly, my aim to paint abstractly is often stymied, and I'll return to representational landscapes and such. But if I move a mat over the landscape, suddenly I'm finding smaller, abstract images embedded within. Oh, what joy!

Try it. It's like a kind of artistic Where's Waldo? :-) ))

Hey, if we can't laugh and enjoy our art, well . . . ho, hum.


nancy neva gagliano said...

i love that, finding the abstracts in our frustrating landscapes, etc....a friend paints with me on fridays, retired therapists and calls her style INTUITIVE...she's been a silent influence, watching her process out the corner of my eye...and then comes back the next week, and chops things up with the paper cutter. i've samed the matting site, thanks. and ... i ordered some of the yupo paper and it's amazing to watch paint ooze together and over, and then are ERASABLE with a cloth. PLAY THERAPY, i say. nice new profile pic, too...the dreamer in you.

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

Good idea matting small pieces...priced right! These are beautiful and should look great matted. You can never start to early for a studio tour...fun!

Kelly M. said...

Thanks, Neva -- that yupo intrigues me -- must give it a try! Ha--thanks about the pic, too. I think I grew up on too many b/w Hollywood movies -- LOL!

Thank you, Mary Ann -- yes, I thought I'd better start now because when the summer hits -- I'm at the beach! :-)

layers said...

its funny how a mat always sets off a painting and makes it look better-- and these do look very nice already.

Eva said...

I like your minis. Small pieces often saved a show for me. I have cropped rejects, but for the most part I just painted smaller paintings that reflected the larger works.I found that often my in creating my smaller painting, ideas for larger ones emerged. I'm predominately an abstract painter so maybe that made it a little easier.

Kelly M. said...

Hi, Donna & Eva-- Thanks for stopping by! I often wonder whether the "eye" requires some type of frame to organize what may seem chaotic or to simply eliminate the redundant? Always a journey of discovery, though . . . :-)