Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Background Check

You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over. (Richard Branson)

Unnamed (and unframed) Painting, 48 x 48, which is hanging in my newly renovated bedroom
(the local color of the flowers was "white," which I translated to greys and purples so they would show up).

Of late, like for the past three years (!), I have been favoring light backgrounds in my floral and still life paintings, and for that matter, figurative paintings as well.  Perhaps because I came out of a watercolor tradition, or because I like that look, or because my paintings seem to call for light and atmosphere...not totally sure, but when I am painting, light is what I am wanting!  The painting above, currently in my bedroom, was painted over a dry background previously applied...I painted the canvas with the wall paint used in the room (Benjamin Moore Sail Cloth :-)...just an experiment, but I kind of liked it.  By nature, however, that treatment is very flat, without paint dimension.

Looking for more texture in this recent piece, I used the spatula pictured below the painting to place chunks of pale paint in shifting temperatures.  Since the subject matter is strong and simple, I wanted the background to have visual interest, yet play a supporting role.

Infinite Possibilities, 36 x 36

Silicone spatula from Bed, Bath and Beyond

And, in another background variation, the piece below features white roses; of course, a white background wouldn't cut it.  Here I mixed some lively, yet subtle, color and washed it on the canvas with lots of solvent right after I had placed basic flower shapes with vine charcoal.  I left bare canvas peeking through, creating a light-shot effect (yet another experiment)!

Sunshine and Roses, 30 x 30

Backgrounds serve to support the central idea, but sometimes it is fun to push it a bit and see what happens; to me, traditional subject matter can be enlivened with an "abstract-ish" supporting backdrop.  AND, change is easy to effect if background overpowers the central idea -- another reason I love painting in oil!

“Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it?” ~Picasso