Thursday, August 2, 2012

Blast from the past

12" x 12 x 1", oil on masonite panel, 2010

Here's a relic of a painting for me (well only from about 2 years ago, but it feels like much longer) that I painted for my girlfriend's mother, using her antique creamer and an eggplant as the subjects.  I believe this was the second still life painting I had done in about 4 years and although I don't hate it, I'd like to think I've improved since then (why wouldn't I?).  To me it looks like someone else painted it, but what I've learned is that most objective observers are able to see far more similarities in your work than you, no matter how diverse you think it is. 

I was experimenting with oil glazing techniques at the time and had a lot of trouble with them.  If you're not familiar with glazing, it is the laying on of thinned, semi-transparent layers of color one over another on a dry black and white underpainting.  So if you wanted something to be green you would first use a layer of blue then a layer of yellow over that to create the illusion (somewhat like pointillism where you are using multiple different colored dots that when combined deceive the eye into thinking it's looking at solid colors).  The result at best is a painting with an unequaled amount of depth in the color and a photo-realistic quality (just look at a Vermeer).

I think it was a combination of my being so rusty after years of not painting as well as not having the patience and confidence required to execute such a precarious technique.  I was using all different materials then including many cheap valu-pak brushes, I'm sure, and I also wasn't using any kind of alkyd drying agent, so I was waiting 3-4 days to lay on each layer of color.  Also, if you notice in the image are vague scratch marks and outlines under the painting.  After looking at it for a minute or two I realized that it was a failed conceptual painting from years ago I had forgotten about that I had gouged out parts of with an exacto knife (probably to cut shapes out of the tape I would tape off paint with).  I recycled cut up failed paintings all the time with this as a result (never again).          

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