Monday, January 23, 2012

Cleaned Up and Previewed in a Frame

Today I spent an hour or so cleaning up the painting of the wine and vegetables. Sometimes things are not apparent until you view them on a screen or from further away. I have renamed the painting Don Bosco with Vegetables because the focal point is really the wine bottle and the glass. The vegetables  are incidental. I darkened the bottle, made the highlight a bit brighter, ran some cooler color over the background to push it even further into the background. Then I corrected a few shapes that were off: the roma tomato on the left, and then the pepper shapes needed more definition. Finally I tried a frame out in Photoshop and it looks good.

I have painted this kind of thing a lot but it never gets old because you can always arrange the players into new positions. The vegetables will always vary, the size will change, the light will be different. Painting still life FROM LIFE- and I need to emphasize, is endlessly fascinating. It would bore me to tears if I had to take a picture of the set up and paint from that reference. I would literally feel blinded. Still life painting for me is all about the reflections and the relationships of the shapes. If I need to move an object or tweak a color to make it more interesting I do it. I'm afraid that if I had a photograph in front of me and I was trying to replicate it, I woudl be just another human copy machine. Remember, painting (to me), is all about what the artist brings to the equation. Why do we value a painting more than a photograph (unless the photograph was taken by Ansel Adams?) I believe it's because the painting is a series of "marks" that are very real and personal and hand-made, for lack of a better word.

I have seen a few artists who will slavishly copy a photograph of a piece of fruit and render a painting that is so photo-realistic it might actually BE the photograph. I am puzzled about why they do this. Is it a matter of challenging themselves to see if they actually can? Where is the drama? Where is the sheer fun factor of "interpreting" and bringing a little imagination into the piece?

I probably wouldn't have had to put so much time into reworking this piece if I hadn't been distracted by the show my husband was watching. I think it's a good lesson about what can happen if you let yourself settle for the mundane. Never be afraid to go back and try to improve a piece. You may surprise yourself. I have become a master re-worker, not because I have so many bad paintings, but because I am continually asking myself "what if?"

So this is the new and improved "Don Bosco with Vegetables"

You can see it in person from January 30-May 30, 2012 at SamB's Restaurant in Bowling Green, Ohio, along with nine more of my paintings. The Prizm Creative Community sponsors a spot show in this location and I currently have eight pieces there, which will be removed to make way for the new ones.

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