Wednesday, November 21, 2012

More from the 20" x 16" series and working large

A couple of posts ago I had written that I was starting a new series of panels measuring 20" x 16". Here are two I'm happiest with:

I'm intrigued with the blue piece. It's hitting a sweet spot between representation and abstraction. After making this piece I experimented with abstraction in mind: 

There are elements I like in these, but overall none of them are completely working.

So, I like two out of fourteen. I'm batting .140. Given this I have decided to work smaller, using 10" x 8"masonite panels. I'm calling these pieces sketches.

Along with abstraction, I'm experimenting with color. I've been looking at early Renaissance painting for inspiration, like this Annunciation by Fra Filippo Lippi:

I want my work to glow the way this painting does. Talk about raising the bar. I feel a combination of inspiration and desperation when I look at this piece. When something this beautiful has been painted why should I even bother? I try to get over myself and just get to work when this emotion overwhelms me.

I've been itching to work large for a few months. Inertia and its sibling fear have been holding me back. So I finally decided to just to dive in. I started by making 12" x 9" sketches. I then photographed them and enlarged them to the final size I wanted the pieces to be (48" x 36"). I then printed it on cheap paper at this larger size so I could get a sense of how they would feel large. Here are the finished pieces.

I've learned a lot from making these. Scale makes all the difference in the world. At a smaller scale these pieces work. They have a glowing, intimate quality. But at 48" x 36" that glow and intimacy gets lost. And the uneven surface is very distracting. I need to keep the surface even and smooth, which is extremely difficult at this scale. With the top dark blue piece I disguised this unevenness by painting the encaustic in a circular pattern. I can't tell if I like it yet. It feels like cheating anyway; I'd like to be able to get it smooth even if I choose to employ this circular pattern. 

When I apply encaustic to a cold (rather than warm) panel it yields a bumpy surface. It's close to impossible to keep such a large panel warm the way I have been working. So to keep the large surface evenly warm I have made a rig and hung 200 watt lamps from it:

I'm planning on making another larger piece. But I want it to be more square than the two I have already made. Something like 40" x 32".