Here are some work-in-progress images of today’s painting, Chorus Line. I’ve been asked about my process for this peacock feather-inspired series, and I think this collage sums it up.
As a painter, especially one who has a background in painting realism, the appeal of abstraction is the spontaneity of it. You have to surrender to the flow, live in the moment & really listen to your intuition. Depending on the artist, this can either be therapeutic, or terrifying!
Quite frankly, this method of pushing & pulling paint, building the image up in layers, is actually my natural way of working.
Except for rare occasions when the project calls for it, I prefer not to start with a precise drawing, but to lay in blocks of colour as I establish the composition. Then I refine & refine … and the longer I hang on to my reference photos, the more realistic the painting will be in the end.
If I’m feeling bold and confident, I ditch the reference photos earlier, and let the painting take me on a journey of discovery. I love ending up somewhere I could never have predicted … it’s in those exciting moments where you’re off the map – when you take on great risk (like when I glazed quinacridone violet over phalo green in the center image above) – that amazing, new things show up on the canvas.
There’s a painter’s high that happens when you paint intuitively, and it works out … that feeling of achievement, of having CREATED something original.
With realism, there is a smug satisfaction from having developed the skills to be able to translate a 3D image or even just a concept, into a 2D painting, using your brushes & paint. The longer you work at it, the better an illusionist you become.
But with abstraction, the lines of reality that you were clinging to to control the chaos, are no longer there … the safety net is gone, the boundries are gone … you can go anywhere!
The elements & principles of design remain the same, so if you have a firm grip on them, you can go back & forth between realism and abstraction at will, or by whimsy.
They are after all, just the alphabet of this language of painting … not the message.
I may not bring this painting to Art in the Park Oakville, I worked on my booth layout yesterday & this one did not make it in.
However, if you’re interested in it, let me know, I can always bring it along.