Saturday, February 17, 2018

Edge of Spring and Four Years later

Edge of Spring (canvas 30” x 24”, 2014-2018)                                                                                      
The earliest photo of this canvas is from 2014 October 31 but I started it in April or May of that year. It is not my usual practice to start a canvas and leave it but it was an idea begun in a paper study and tackled on canvas only to be left in pursuit of other themes and paintings that were already more defined in my mind. The canvas languished in the studio facing the wall for 2 years until I looked at it again. Could I have left this painting as it was on 31 October 2014?
31 October 2014
 I added layers and complexities and then removed them. I changed my mind every time I saw it sitting in the studio patiently waiting its turn. Where was it going and why?
2016 March 30
2016 May 9
2016 August 31
It evolved but seemed to be of two minds or even three minds. Again (unlike how I usually work) and again I asked myself if I should have left it at 9 May, 2016, or even earlier at March 30, 2016? I will never know of course. Since it seemed very removed from the paper “study” of 2014, perhaps a different title was needed? As the canvas changed, I saw in it a reflection of other things I had worked on in the four years since beginning. Which brings me to the point of the need for "studies" - more of them, perhaps, in order to study the problems in these works as I go along? My usual practice if I am stuck is to take another paper or canvas and start over on it, working out the difficulties in two or three iterations. But not this time.
2016 September 21
2016 November 7
2016 November 17
The changes I made kept splitting the canvas into two or three sections. There seemed to be no unity and no purpose. So finally on 11 September 2017 I asked a friend, a trusted friend, a wise friend:

"I seem to be in a hurry to paint. I'm not developing the themes expressed somewhat briefly on a canvas; I do one study, then one canvas and then on with the next idea. so now I need to question this. Am I having trouble with these canvases because I haven't developed the idea enough with enough studies?"

Friend Jean then said to Louise “[warning: unasked for advice] So, Louise.  Here's what I think. Every one of these is interesting. You could have stopped at any one of them and done yourself proud.  It is a very interesting painting. I don't really know why you are so convinced that it is not done, or not working or whatever it is that you are feeling. I know no one else sees what we do since no one else knows what we're trying to achieve. But what I think is that you could set a limit for yourself of how  many hours you are going to spend on something and then move on. When I was in Haifa (and sometimes now as well), I felt I had so many other things to do that I didn't get into the studio enough and therefore the painting went really slowly, in dibs and dabs, spending half of my painting time trying to reconnect to what I was doing without ruining it before I could do something that would advance it. What I felt then and still do now is that there is a certain regularity and speed with which we have to approach the work or we become unsure of ourselves. We doubt what we are doing, we have trouble re-connecting, assessing what we've done, and knowing when we are finished. Studies are good. But they can also limit you if you see them as more than a jumping off point. Let it go where it wants to go. Spend a certain amount of time on it. Stop in an interesting place (and these are ALL interesting), then move on. No one painting is going to make or break you."

2017 September 5
2017 September18
2017 October 2
2017 October12
2017 November 21

Louise then said to Friend Jean, “The thing that bothered me about this one though is that it always seemed to me to be split diagonally in two. I think it is more united in its current state. That may be my imagination. I do like the idea of giving oneself a set time to finish -- that is helpful and I am making progress. Sometimes we lose self-confidence.”

Friend Jean then said to Louise “(I think we always lose self-confidence. hahaha)
I see what you mean about the composition being split diagonally, but I think that the diagonal lines give it a certain dynamism and I especially like the contrasts in values and variety of colors in the "diagonal" one. The danger, as you say, is that it might seem to split the composition or lead the eye out of the work. I never thought much about diagonals vs horizontals and verticals until I took a Baroque art history class. It was one of the hallmarks of the Baroque that they used to activate their composition. The paintings were very congested with object/subjects and a lot of diagonals in the eye movement within the compositions. I had a great instructor who would get up and jump around in front of the slide screen and get really excited about everything and ask, 'isn't this great?!!'. I really enjoyed her. She later bought one of my small paintings at my solo show at Unsettled. (It didn't have a single diagonal). Anyway, I think diagonals are fine as long as you don't completely lead the eye out of the composition. You can always do something that will stop it from happening. But it works either way. Horizontals are the more tranquil of course".

2017 December 18
2018 January 5
2018 January 8
2018 January 28
2018 January 31
 Final, Finished, The End