Working With Wedges

I’m continuing my explorations with the wedges I bought recently. It’s amazing how many random sundry items can be used to drag paint around a piece of paper, old credit cards, cardboard, kitchen utensils……!

(Paint dabbed on direct from the tube then pulled across the paper.)

It’s just so much fun. I find it hard to stop myself from overdoing it and ending up with a muddy mess!

You can also scrape into the paint with these wedgy devices to create interesting effects. Even combs meant for hair provide interesting marks, as long as you don’t go overboard. Finally, a use for those head lice combs I had for the kids!

(I’ve used an old comb and my wedges here.)

They really are a recipe for fun, experimentation and adventure. The hard part is balancing the excited kid and creating an image with a hint of artistic finesse! “Revelation” which I’ll be uploading to Bluethumb soon, was a success story in this regard. Here it is after the first restrained session.

(The beginning of “Revelation”)

With something like this you tend to become tentative about what to do next for fear of wrecking everything. This time I opted to paint in a sky shape quickly and step away. (Must maintain that fresh quality).

Anyway, this is how “Revelation” turned out. It’s one of the lucky ones in that I was able to hold back from overworking things. It felt so good but it means everything happens so fast!

(The completed “Revelation”)

I said to some fellow artists last week that I need a helper, not to do bits of painting or other things, but to stand beside me and snatch my tools away at the most opportune moment in a painting’s development.

I’m about to start some new larger wedgy ones so we’ll see what develops there.

I took some wedge type tools with me on our recent plein air outing. I was hoping it would help make my sketches looser. In the process I discovered a couple of new ways to use them.

(Plein air sketch using wedges and a big graphite crayon for drawing.)

New Work

“Table Cape” and “Dominion” (cousins of “Revelation”) have been uploaded to Bluethumb. They’re both unframed but Bluethumb offers a great framing service.

“Table Cape” 68cm wide x 25cm high
“Veil” 68cm wide x 28cm high

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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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