Lots of paint under the bridge December 26, 2017 10:10
A lot has happened with me and my art since I last posted, and frankly, I didn't want to post about it until I felt like I had a handle on things. To a certain extent, I do now. And yet...
I don't even want to write about how I got sensitized to the ammonia in acrylic paints and had to give them up. How I tried watercolors. Oils. Gouache. Egg tempera. Now casein.
So far, casein has been the most promising. The problems with it are mostly that little info exists about the ins and outs of using true casein as opposed to casein emulsion paints (which come in tubes ready-made and are based on ammonia and contain oil).
I like that the casein paints I make are not at all chalky or high in tone like I read they would be. I like that I can get a lot of contrast, which I read I would not be able to do with casein (must have been about the casein emulsions). It's really nice that they don't have a smell and they clean up with water. They are really intense because they sit mostly on top of the support. I'm getting the hang of how to mix the binder with the pigments, and I made the right decision to use pigment dispersions instead of sticking to dry pigments. The latter are very romantic but messy, and neatness is not my strong point. And the dispersions allow me to use all sorts of vivid synthetic pigments that would be hellish to try to mix dry for various reasons.
So what's the problem? I'm thinking that the problem is me. I am not having the courage of my convictions when it comes to painting. Not yet.
I made a good start when I got going with oils and got most of the way through a very beautiful abstract painting at the same time that I began a much more representational painting. When I started the background for the representational painting, someone commented that she liked the background as it was. And so did I. This was just a pale green with some vague white cloud-like things, like something you would scry with. I even thought of making a scrying painting. So it started out good, although in my gut I kept resisting proceeding with it because I liked the basic background. It was mysterious all on its own. I forged ahead but there was something about the representational painting--a clumsiness--whereas the abstract was much more flowing and graceful--joyful and beautiful. The representational painting felt labored and grim.
Yes. Labored and grim is exactly it.
Then I got the casein stuff and got totally sidetracked away from the oils. Didn't finish either painting and thought about just quitting oils. Because of the smell. Also, for me, painting realistically with it is just not happening. I kept resisting working on the Epiphany painting and hating how it was turning out. So I decided to try it in casein.
Again I loved the background, which this time was a very deep and moody perylene green with blurry shapes hidden in its gloom. Interesting.
Then I got to a certain point and just hated the fuck out of it. That's the unfinished painting you see on this entry. For one thing, despite the design, it's clumsy. The flowers are overworked. And I know that at this point there is nothing I can do to fix that. They will continue to look overworked. I didn't take the time to draw them well because I really don't like drawing before painting. But more, I really just don't want to paint these things.
So if I just accept these issues, what if I just completely stopped doing the kind of realism I have been doing a lot of and painted abstracted stuff for a while? I remind myself of how well the completely abstract Hekate painting came out. If I can do that, I can walk the path of abstraction and succeed. But I must abandon this naturalism/details thing. It is stifling me and keeping me from moving forward.
An artist who has been inspiring me recently is Redon. The paintings of his that I like best I found out actually either incorporate pastels or are pure pastels, like The Druidess here. That's how he got those intense colors. I do love his use of blue and gold, but even more I like how he doesn't fuss too much about the details. You look at his paintings and feel that the images arose from his subconscious (even though, for instance, I know that he did a charcoal drawing of this painting).
I want to do more of letting things arise, like I did with Uprising and Hekate and even The Black Egg, which is way more representational and yet is in no way labored, I think because I didn't think about it too much or plan it too much. I let it just arise and didn't try to "understand" it. I want to do that much more, to let forms create themselves like in an alchemical retort. Let them exist barely seen or half seen. Palimpsests. Work much more with COLOR. No more following "natural" or "realistic" or "local" colors. Instead, I want colors that burn or that have mysterious depths.
I can do this if I have courage. And now, at this point in my life, it is way too late to keep being a coward about my art.