A Devil in the Detail

This week I thought about how I often prefer the details and cropped portions of paintings more than I like them as a whole!

I forced myself to stop fiddling in the studio and just start painting …“because you should.”  When the painting frenzy stopped, it wasn’t a masterpiece, but, this bit was ok, maybe, that section might be alright too and perhaps this part. It’s been happening for ages now, just look at my Instagram.  So, what does it mean?

It means I had one of those “aha” moments that leads to something else, while preparing some large sheets of paper with gesso.   Usually, they are cut them up then gessoed, but feeling both lazy and more efficient at the same time, I did the whole sheet at once.  Cut it later, I thought as I slapped on the gesso.

While casually gessoing it came to me. I know! ….. Just make a painting on the whole sheet! Find the good parts later. Then chop it up!  Such a simple idea, but it seemed like a revelation at the time.

The idea came to me as a result of a subscriber’s comment on my last Studio News, “Fiddling and Floundering About” where she recommended I work big.  My reply to her was that I could feel “big” lurking somewhere.  I’ve felt it for a while now, but not paid too much attention. Small is comfortable, but…..

A couple of larger pieces were started based on a cropped design from an earlier painting (above).  Step one (below) seemed ok.

Stage two (above)!  Well …. not sure about this lot?  Waiting to see how it feels later on seemed like a good idea.  It doesn’t match up to my ideas or expectations.  (The story of an artists’ life!)

What next?  There was an interesting white shape, so I started putting on more colour and doing a bit of drawing based on that. After realising that I was only fiddling about, I forced myself to stop! (Good heavens! It’s like an app on my phone. Force start, force stop!!??)

Still not excited about this one though.  Why is that?  It started the same way as when painting small, so, in theory, you’d think it could work.  I have heard it’s not that easy to “go big” though.

Looking at the colour mixes …. too much variety and they don’t work together well.  Yucky greens.

The shapes are interesting enough, yet they haven’t inspired much.  Is it the comparative shape sizes or the number of shapes in relation to each other and/or the format? So many questions.

There are lots of mid values with some white and black.  The unsaturated version looks better than the coloured one, so, the values are not too bad, but, they could be designed better perhaps?

The initial big black brush marks don’t work design-wise.  They seem to cut through on top of the other shapes, taking over (especially in the saturated photo).

The big question now is, persevere with this one, try to find some crops to use, or start again?

Perseverance seemed unbearable so I tried to find some nice crops, but could only find small ones …. a signal to start afresh. It just ain’t “special” enough. No point flogging a dead horse!

So, what’s next!

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6 thoughts on “A Devil in the Detail

  1. The Cropped piece of the first image that is part of the artwork discussed yesterday is successful I think. The other black broad brush stroke is not so dominant. I notice with the two that have wriggly lines that, as I scroll down, natural cropping occurs and is very engaging. What about using the back of a discarded piece of paper and begin your gestural process without using black? Choose a colour scheme and allow a different hue to be your skeleton. You may get an entirely different mood in the work.

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    1. I think that’s a good idea Lynne. I used a blue green recently and it did feel different. I liked 3 out of the six I did. I tend to get stuck on an idea sometimes. I do love the drawing with those pens though!

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  2. I really like that dull turquoisey blue. I wonder if the diagonals are fighting each other in the latter versions. Must be the colour that doing it rather than the tone. I love the first image too which has some beautiful complexity and colour variation. I am only learning still to analyse composition; not my strong point. Curious to know how much bigger you went??

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    1. Yes, Gaye I like the blue too. What is it with green!? Funny how they say value matters more than colour. It feels like the reverse here. The second one is half a sheet of that cartridge paper. It seemed huge.

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