Painting as poetry rather than science
October 10, 2016
One of my present challenges with painting is to distil some basic elements out of a crowded composition.
I don’t like to set up still lifes these days, they strike me as too formal. So when certain aspects of our messy kitchen counter caught my eye, I took a picture and decided to work with it purely as a starting point. This first piece above wasn’t entirely to my satisfaction composition wise, but I liked that I was able to break out of slavishly following the actual photo.
Later, I revisited this set up from another angle. This time I used a specific underpainting which was a previous failed work. Last post I talked about using some of my oil pastel drawings as models to kick start my painting. Take a look at the lower left panel of this piece below.
I decided to enlarge that as a separate painting. It didn’t have enough design elements to hold interest, but it made a great underpainting for the next still life I did.
I let the composition and colours of the underpainting lead my decisions in this still life. Finally, my two ways of working seem to be coming together- the realistic, and the freer, fantasy approach. I need the everyday objects to anchor and engage my attention. But I also need the room to be able to play with colour and light. I also enjoy the freedom of not having to explain everything. Areas are left out of focus and a little mysterious.
That’s why I feel that the approach to painting which speaks most to me is as poetry. Distilling the essence of something without explaining the magic away.
A lot of realistic painting bores me because of the intellectual approach. Just imitating the likeness of something even if technically well done isn’t necessarily art. As either viewer or maker, it doesn’t bring me anywhere new, it doesn’t open any doors in my heart or soul.
Here is a merged photo of the still life over the under painting.
More in this series coming soon.