Thursday, December 13, 2012

Multiple figures

I've been working with multiple figures:

A friend of mine, artist Jim Angell, said, "You're knocking on the door" when he looked at these. In introducing more than one woman the challenges of color, composition, and movement become more apparent. I'm happy with the sensual, fleshy quality the women have. But I'm bothered with the stasis of these pictures. The figures are similar in weight, color, and size. I want my eye to continuously rove around the panel, which it doesn't do yet. 

In the third piece I like the negative space that starts in the upper left and works its way down. But the negative space in the upper right is competing with it. I decided to make another version of this piece varying the color and lightness of the figures in hope to create more depth and motion. I also incorporated a new figure in the upper right to accentuate the negative space in the left. 

I'm leaving the safer realm of one centralized figure. I'm beginning to use the entire picture plane. I'm beginning to crop. I'm making asymmetrical compositions. But unfortunately this piece is not working yet. It looks like two separate paintings welded together down the middle. And each figure needs more contrast in its size, color, and weight.

In creating these pieces I'm gaining clarity on my process. Once I've printed on the fabric and bound the thing together with encaustic the picture is finished. I haven't figured out how to go back into the piece and change it. But what I can do is make another version. Working with the computer, I can adjust the hue and darkness of each figure. I can move the figures around. Because I am using a computer during this phase of the process I'm getting lost in all the options I have at my disposal. I'm realizing that I need to give myself more time to live with the pieces before they are printed and painted.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On three women and two layers

I made this last week. It measures 24" x 20":

I'm using two layers of silk instead of four or five. With this technique the line becomes clearer; it's a more graphic approach. When I finished this piece my initial feeling was that it was too literal. But it's growing on me.

I labored more than I have in a while with this one. Here's a sequence of how the work developed. At first I was using five layers depicting two figures in a pink environment. Towards the end of the process I edited it down to two layers, added a figure, and put them in a yellow environment:

I'm never completely sure how the individual figures will come out. So I don't have total control over them. But what this piece taught me is that what I do have control over is composition. 

Here are four smaller pieces using two layers:

The delicacy and abstraction of the pink one is intriguing to me. I'm coming to terms with the fact that less can be more. My knee-jerk reaction is to add more layers thinking that that is how I will achieve depth and luminosity. But I'm surprised with how much depth I can get using fewer layers.

I also have reworked the 48" x 36" piece that I wrote about on my last post. Here's what it initially looked like:

At first I thought that the surface texture was taking away from the piece. But then I grew to like the texture. I realized that I in fact had it the other way around; the image was taking away from the surface quality rather than the surface quality taking away from the image. So I added a rich, dark brown silk layer over the painting to mute the figure:

It may be too subtle. But the longer I sit with it the more the figure emerges.