In the Studio: August

How to bring the open quality of drawing into my painting practice?

Eclipse, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 60 inches, 2011

I’ve been researching the best materials for what I want to do, and recently I’ve been flirting with acrylics. The possibilities of layering quickly with acrylics are more akin to the flexible nature of drawing. The painting above was done in a single session.

After making this painting, however, I realize I still have a love affair with oil paint, so I’m now working out how to bring some of the qualities of the painting above into my ongoing body of work. Back to the studio for more problem-solving. It’s August, the sun is finally here, I may just goof off next week instead of flaying myself!

Negotiating Uncertainty

Living Room (below) has come a long way in six days. I guess Malcolm Morley was right: “if the inspiration is there, the process follows”. I think it’s well on its way.

The process of making a painting is rarely straight-ahead. Since I don’t work with formulas, each piece is a way of starting again. At the first lay-in (starting layer of paint) of a multi-panel piece, my initial excitement was followed by huge self-doubt. Convinced that I had begun a project impossible to complete, I pronounced the painting a failure, and turned the panels against the wall for about a week. In a brave moment, I showed them to some supportive painter friends, who thought the project worth pursuing.

If I feel a glimmer of excitement about the possibilities, that’s a good sign. These things never work out if I just do something because I think it will be good for me (martyrdom definitely not on the agenda).

Only through time and effort will I know whether I can pull it off. There’s still a possibility that three or four weeks of work will go nowhere, but I’m optimistic it will be worth the effort. Or will it?

This painting is based on a photograph sent to me by my friend and amazing artist, Chris Dorosz.

livingroominprogress1

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Nelson_Conversation1_Dorosz
Nelson_Conversation1_Dorosz, 72 x 102 inches, oil and acrylic on wood (4 panels), 2009
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Some details of paintings

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Hall 2, 2009, graphite and pencil crayon on vellum and stonehenge papers
Hall 2, 2009, graphite and pencil crayon on vellum and stonehenge papers
Hall 1, 15 x 22 inches, 2009, graphite and pencil crayon on vellum and stonehenge papers
Hall 1, 15 x 22 inches, 2009, graphite and pencil crayon on vellum and stonehenge papers

StudioMay20_2009

The Painted Hall Revisited

Below is one of the newest works completed in my studio. I am currently painting a handful of pieces for the Galerie de Bellefeuille, so my body of work for the Bau-Xi (forthcoming, November in Toronto) is on hold temporarily to fulfill that obligation.

The Painted Hall Revisited, oil and acrylic on wood, 36 x 48 ins
The Painted Hall Revisited, oil and acrylic on wood, 36 x 48 ins

I have previously made I think two other works of the Painted Hall in Chatsworth. Something about the geometry and light of this room keeps me coming back. No two works are ever alike–I am a slightly different person today than I was yesterday, and quite changed from the person who painted a similar piece two years ago; my way of laying down marks has been shifting.

It’s also admittedly an excuse to spend time in this room again. I don’t think I have delusions of grandeur, but the hall, which was expertly decorated for an overall stunning effect, is great fodder for a painter. This piece, which is 36 x 48 inches, took around five days to complete. I would love to do one more, much larger, so you can physically feel the space.

photo credit: Derek von Essen