Archive for August, 2016

Subject Selection

Monday, August 15th, 2016

The question for today’s blog poses an even more challenging exploration than the question of medium, discussed in my previous entry.

Why do I select the subject matter I do?   And how does that relate to who I am?  The truth is that I am drawn to such a wide variety of subject matter that it’s difficult to find the commonalities that will help me answer that question.

My personality is such that I like people to get to the point.  So I try to get to the point, myself.  And it holds true for painting, too, which is probably why my work tends to retain a certain degree of realism, concentrating on the focal area and merely suggesting, to varying degrees, the supporting information.  Fun and innovation are fine, but I try to be as considerate of my viewers as I want others to be of me, incorporating fun that my viewers can relate to and enjoy along with me.

What interests me in a subject?  I’m drawn to subjects that allude to universality more than specifics and that trigger the viewer’s imagination.  I like to use landscapes that, though usually of real places from my own life experience, may suggest similar locales from the viewer’s personal or vicarious experiences—allowing an armchair traveler, for instance, to liken it to something he or she has read about, even if not having experienced something similar in person.

Winter Point (#160711-o)

Winter Point (#160711-o)

I like to depict a sense of timelessness or indications of passing time more than modernity.  Graceful, organic lines appeal to me more than architectural angularity.

When considering light, I look for translucence, side-lit and back-lit subjects, or a glow of color that enlivens an otherwise unexceptional subject.   And I like the “language” and added dimensionality of reflections.

Gulf Beach (#150206-w)

Gulf Beach (#150206-w)

When my subjects are people or animals, I look for the gesture—a sense of action or dynamic tension that suggests the figure’s unique identity, what the subject is doing, or something about the subject’s character or personality.  In faces, I look for something interesting or characteristic in proportions, features, or expression that will help to define the subject for the viewer—more than the eye alone might normally notice.

Bailey (#081201-w)

Bailey (#081201-w)

To me, these things are beautiful and worth drawing attention to, and I want to express their value for my viewers’ consideration and appreciation.

Happy Mediums

Monday, August 1st, 2016

In order to maintain consistency and quality, I must continually review and evaluate not only my work but my motivation for painting.  I’m going to be raising some questions through the next few blogs to help me think through what I am doing and why I make the choices I do.  The questions I’ll be exploring in today’s blog are “What do I love about the mediums I choose?” and “How do I select which one to use for a project?”

As you may have guessed already, my two favorite mediums are watercolor and oils.  These paints have extremely different characteristics and methods for application, so what is it that draws me to each?

What do I love about watercolor?  As I’ve written previously, I love the flow and spontaneity of watercolor, the challenge of permitting it to “do its thing” while controlling its parameters.  I enjoy its transparency and the ease of taking it with me when I travel.  It is a wonderful medium for allowing the underlying paper to reflect the brilliance of sunshine and other light passages.  Darks become a counterpoint to those light passages for the sake of contrast, and even they can exhibit transparent, colorful undertones.

Dawn of a New Day (#160704w)

Dawn of a New Day (#160704w)

So what about oils, which behave so very differently?  In fact, it is those very differences from watercolor that draw me to oils.  What I like most is the control they allow me to maintain over the colors as I mix them on the palette.  There is much less guesswork in achieving and maintaining desired values, and in creating the desired blends of hues for repeated use throughout the composition than there is with watercolor.  Oils tend to stay put when I position them on the canvas, rather than running wildly when they contact an adjacent wet passage.   This is still a comparatively new medium for me, so much of my current work is experimental and investigative to develop my skills and to understand its use more thoroughly.

Morning Calm (#160705o)

Morning Calm (#160705o)

Why do I choose one medium or another for a specific project?  My selection of watercolor or oils for any specific painting depends not only on the subject matter and on what I want to do with it but on my purpose for the painting.  My mood at that time also plays a role in my selection, as well as my momentary sense of play or desire for control over my work.  Sometimes I approach the same subject in both watercolor and oils, as I did in the paintings above, to explore possibilities, to compare the outcome, or as a challenge to myself to overcome perceived difficulties or expectations.

Because watercolor begins with light tones and oils begin with darks, using both mediums forces me to think through how the composition could be constructed most effectively, where and how the basic design structure can be strengthened and how the desired effects might be enhanced.  It requires thorough preplanning, which ultimately ensures better overall work in either medium.