Monday, May 25, 2009

Plus One (Deep Purple)

This is the piece I'm working on now. I don't know if it's done yet. It's come a long way from where it began. The surprising part of the process came from an idea I stole from a woman called Mary Todd Beam who has several very useful books on art technique published by North Light. One idea she suggests is to use contact paper on the surface of your painting and then lift it at some point to reveal the negative space. I had started with a large panel (the painting is 24" x24") with a gloss white surface I had painted over with black gesson. Then I cut a large circle of contact paper, laid it down on the panel, and painted over it, mostly in browns and greens. I was actually thinking about letting it stay there, but I was at a workshop on Saturday and my teacher was encouraging me to see what would happen if I peeled it off. What I had not anticipated was that in so doing I would also peel off most of the black gesso, which (unsurprisingly, in retrospect) stuck to the surface of the contact paper rather than the smooth white surface of the panel. That left me with a large white circular space with black flecks on the panel, and a circular black plastic with white flecks in my hand. So I just glued the contact paper back down, wrong side up, and found myself looking at this rather startling celestial presence. I began adding collage elements with torn and cut paper, but there was still a pretty glaring contrast between the circular shape and the rest of the elements in the picture. So I stopped working on it, but kept turning it over in my mind.

After I got home. I started thinking about night sky and pulled out a tube of dioxazine purple that's been sitting in my drawer forever and I began doing thin washes of purple and working back into it with orange and blue and purple watercolor pencils, wetting them down, glazing them over, and doing it again. The whole process brought me back into that intermediate zone between abstraction and landscape. I don't know if it's done yet. I like the deepening effect of the multiple layers of thin color, and I think maybe it needs one more area of focus, one more surprise. But this is where it's at now.

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