Thursday, April 3, 2014

Don't be ambiguous. Commit.

I have been working on some paintings that I started in the past but had not finished.  With each one, even though they were started, I have had to go back to the beginning.  I thought at first this was because I had lost my train of thought and needed to find my way back into the painting.  It is more complicated.  I had to go back to the beginning because in each painting I had not done the work that needs to be done at the start of a painting.  I had not decided what it was that I wanted to do.  It's probably why I never finished the paintings.

I had not made basic, essential decisions about the value distribution in the design. About shapes.  Really, I had not decided what the painting's story was. You can't reach a destination if you don't know where you want to go. I'm rather shocked by the ambiguousness of my block-ins, about my reluctance to make decisions and commit to a direction.  What I am having to do with each of these paintings, is to decide.  Is to commit.

What shape exactly do I want a field to be.  What is the purpose of this tree to the design.  Do I want the painting to be about the sky or the land.  What is the focal point.  A blob of a tree is randomly placed because I didn't stop, observe what was happening in the landscape and decide how the tree was useful. I didn't make a decision about what to change and what to keep.

Block-ins may be loose, but they are the bedrock of the decisions that make a painting.  Don't be ambiguous.  How can the viewer understand what I am seeing, if I am not clear about it myself, and not clear about how I want to organize that information.  Decisions about value, shape, placement and design have nothing to do with style, or whether a painting is loosely or tightly rendered. They are the artistic process itself. Confront and solve each painting from the moment you pick up a pencil or brush.  You can experiment with possible solutions, and they are infinite, but you can't paint the painting until you commit to one solution. Then, everything you do must support the direction you have chosen.

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