Monday, September 26, 2011

Seagull Experimentation part 1

Seagull Experiment 1

This painting’s past life was an image of a tire on the beach in Fort Funston, San Francisco, California. For many reasons, it didn’t make the cut as a painting so I wiped the image out. It became a brushy, “Guston-like”, minimalist, gun-metal gray painting that hung in my studio for weeks while I contemplated my next move, and was admired as is by the abstract painters in the studio. However, they knew I did not have the guts to leave it as minimalist/ abstract painting permanently. It was not complete as is.

The painting was going to serve as a detour or segue, I am not sure which, on my meandering road to (maybe) abstraction. It was going to hopefully become the ground for my new painting experiment, “Abstraction Soft”. I wanted to combine my current favorite elements, brushy paint strokes, a rendered beast, and some flat abstract shapes. Crazy sounding I’m sure, but reminiscent of my “Elmo and Me” painting that was my first painting I did at my new studio.
ME AND ELMO oil on canvas 20"x20"
I wanted to use this lush painted surface as a background with a beastie subject, a seagull, painted on it, then juxtapose some flat, brightly colored shapes that would create space. At first I added a flying seagull to the smooth palette knifed area I had left near the center just for that purpose. The bird looked okay, but it was not “singing” to me (ok, I know seagulls don’t actually sing). I thought at first it was the scale, that it was too big perhaps. Then I figured out it was the value and that it did not have enough contrast for my tastes.
The seagull was in flight and the wings were out stretched and looking very gray. The gray was too close to the gray of the background. The gull kind of disappeared into the background, which is not good. I know a painter that always uses close values. When you looked at his work and squinted your eyes, the whole thing merged together and disappeared. He had a theory that we dreamed in close values and his paintings reflected that. That is not how I like to paint. I like contrast. Because of this, the original seagull had to go. I picked another seagull with more white and planned to make him even whiter to pump up the contrast more. Here he is:


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