Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My How Things Change...

Painting 18 paintings in less than a month changes a person. It wasn't a major change. I didn't suddenly find the meaning of life or notice any physical changes. It was a subtle change that affected the way that I paint.

When I realized that I had to paint 18 new 12" x 12" pieces for my latest show, I set aside the 30" x 40" painting that I was working on, thinking I would get back to it once I completed my deadline. I had already finished the under-painting so I didn't think it would be a problem to complete later. Little did I know that my method of painting would change.  I just couldn't get into the groove of painting this one after taking so much time off of it and it took me awhile to figure out why.

Having to paint so many pieces quickly to meet my deadline, I stopped doing under-paintings to just block out color and shapes. I had to get the painting almost perfect from the start since I didn't have much time to linger on each piece. I got better technically and was able to finish these paintings with less steps. Going back to the older painting, it was hard to go back to my less efficient way of painting. The under-painting seemed to get in the way of my blending the colors on my panel. The skin didn't look right. I couldn't get the skin to look like skin and have that nice translucent look I wanted. The figure looked too cartoony to me. I also started to feel like I had too much white space. The images were looking tiny in comparison to the newer paintings. Nothing about this piece seemed right anymore.  My style and technique had changed enough that it made completing this painting difficult.

The white area around these figures now seem like too much, as if the figures aren't occupying enough space.

The skin just didn't look like skin. It lacked that transparency of the paint that makes it look more life-like.

A close-up of the under-painting that I previously completed.

So what does one do when a painting no longer works for you? I could just gesso the panel and start over, which may still happen. But for now, I have put this painting aside and have started some new ones. I may go back to it if I feel like I need to challenge myself. I can't guarantee it will ever get finished. It no longer feels right to me. I know it's a subtle change and I am sure some of you don't know what the big deal is and don't understand why I can't just continue painting on this older painting. I guess to me it feels like accidently brushing your teeth with someone else's toothbrush. You can still get the job done but it sure doesn't feel right! 

Here is one of the newest paintings that I am working on. I am no longer blocking out shapes and colors first and I think my painting skills have gotten better.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jhina,
    You are such a hard worker and so productive! I envy you. Congratulations on making such beautiful and evocative work. You really seem to be hitting your stride.

    I was thinking about your comments on the big piece you had been painting of the women at the beach and the fact that there seemed to be too much white space. I noticed in your most recent four pieces that you either put in shadows under the figures or let them bleed off the side and bottom. Perhaps that's what's wrong. I do really like the women at the beach. All the knees and legs with the chairs are very interesting and remind me of a painting I did years ago of the same subject with me talking to myself (two figures) at the beach. It was sort of like the two Friedas (except not as good of course and not as bloody).

    Anyway, keep painting and blogging and good luck with winning the grant.