Friday, 26 July 2013

  Embracing the truth about a painting

Reflecting - incomplete
91 x 61 cm
Acrylic on Canvas

This painting was going to be a show-piece. Everard-Read invited me to be part of a group show about still life, aimed to show people that there's more to still life than they assume, that it isn't simply pretty pictures, or meaningless objects in nice groupings. 
I thought it best to do something that I know, and that is recognizably mine, but to push the boundaries a teensy tiny bit, by adding reflections instead of shadows, and not only reflecting the marbles but also the clouds - as it was reflected in my original photo.

But on the day I was supposed to start, I also woke up sick, and was pretty much in bed (on couch) for a week - which is agonizing when there's a blank canvas just waiting in the next room. And when I was eventually well enough to work, I struggled with my concentration - I would be amped to work, sit down in front of my easel, and find myself getting up again to change a song, to make tea, to go find the cat to pet.. anything would be more interesting than working. All in all I worked for 4 - 5 weeks on this..(way too long!) and ended up not sending it in for the exhibition, because I was just not satisfied with it.

I think some of the magic of the painting got lost along the way, it seems cold to me now. As if the brush strokes are just a little too calculated, the colours desaturated. Also, I have to mention I used a different make of canvas, and that played a large role, it hardly has any texture, almost to the point of being slippery, and absorbed the paint differently than what I am used to - which is no excuse, but this no doubt just added to the awkwardness.

As you can see I removed one of the marbles, it lined up too well with the marbles next to it, and created a line with them, when removed the composition opened up, and worked much better. And I ended up flattening the background, the reflections of the sky was so distracting, I couldn't focus on the marbles. I intended to put those reflections back again afterwards, but I quite like the flatness. Now I just have to get some of the spontaneity back in the marbles, and some colours that really pop. Overall I think this painting has the potential to be a very calming and relaxing piece, but the balance between soothing and vibrant has to be just right.

And now, after having taken a break from marbles, I sit back and try to look at it anew, to put away that feeling of 'preciousness' and be willing to possibly mess it up, in order to achieve greatness.. or at least to a place where I can be proud of it.

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