Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Spiderweb Arch III

1.84 Spiderweb Arch III. Lately I've been experimenting with more in depth planning of the composition of my paintings. I used to rant and rave in art class when my teacher asked me to draw a series of thumbnail sketches of the planned work before starting. I always changed things around as I worked and felt that the thumbnail sketches would ruin the possibility of my work surprising me. Until recently I've always compiled a bunch of photographs from different angles at different times of day of each subject and merged them into a composition in my head as I worked. This resulted in a lot of paintings where I discovered a connection between the shapes half way through, and a painting the hadn't felt promising would become one of my favorites. More often I would discover that what had seemed so interesting in my head appeared flat and contrived on the canvas. 

After a run of frustrating unfinished paintings I recently started making sketches of what I thought a painting was going to look like to screen for ideas that were absolutely not going to work. I'd then discard the sketches and start the painting. I was still processing the realistic photo image into simpler shapes in my head as I went. 

For this painting, I made a sketch of the scene, trying to reproduce only the elements that I wanted for my painting. Then I made a sketch of the sketch; followed by another sketch and another. After four generations of sketches I felt that I had wiped away all of the unnecessary details and had begun to focus on the arch as a jigsaw puzzle of flowing shapes rather than a sandstone wall with a hole worn through. 

I discarded the original picture this time and used only the sketch to complete the painting. I struggled with the lack of a guide for color choice. I repainted the scene 3 times trying to get the differences in the shades of the shadow right. If even one of the shades was off, I would repaint them all because I needed the layering to be in the right order to avoid having to use a small brush to make lazy looking strokes in the corners of shapes. 

I have a few issues with this painting. The effort that I put into getting each piece just right in shape and color doesn't show and the bottom portion of the painting looks especially lazy. I think that the colors are a little warm, especially the highlights, and they don't quite suggest moonlight like they're supposed to. 

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