Sometimes a Great Notion: Day 21, Nov. 21, 2009

This was a hard-working day at the Studio. I didn’t mean it to be — I just kept seeing¬† More To Be Done.

I worked the center panels, particularly the central one, very hard today, using Liquin as if it were water. I also got to use my spatula-like tool, of which I’m very fond, and which makes specific kinds of marks on canvas. It doesn’t work on masonite board at all.

The “spatula” (actually I found it with clay shaping tools) is on the left and the goo is what my palette looked like. There’s a palette knife in there, also, which came in handy.

I worked with those tools and then put them aside and started what I can only describe as a kind of drip process: load the brush with lots of Liquin medium and some indefinite paint and lay a line down the canvas:

I didn’t get photos of the really good gooey places, but this is an example. After I laid down a bunch of medium and paint, I went back over the lines with a big brush, dispersing the materials. This method actually worked better than just brushing the paint on the canvas.

This is after the goo has been distributed. I had both violet and paynes gray on my brushes, so they came out varying themselves nicely.

The Great Notion occurred about 3:30. I had been at it since 9 and was more than a little tired. So I thought I’d clean up and wait for Jer at 4. I was standing at the door of the barn and I saw one set of mountains more clearly than I had ever seen them before. The sun was just right for the shadows to pull out the forms individually. They were beautiful. I admired them for minute, took out my camera and bemoaned its inability to photograph what I could see so clearly. I was standing there wishing there were some way I could record the mountains as they were at that moment, when it suddenly dawned on me — I had been fussing at painting them for weeks and never could see them clearly. I dashed back to the palette (a version of the one above), scrambled for color and started making marks all over the dull blue shapes that I had thought were the best I was going to get for those particular forms.

Here’s a¬† before shot, when I thought I was finished for the day (this was cropped from a much larger photograph, so it’s fuzzy. But you’ll get the idea.)

And here’s what I left the studio with this evening, having thrown paint at those forms, running from open door to the painting wall, back and forth, trying to make do with the paint on my palette so I could catch the shapes before they became mere silhouettes in front of the setting sun:

What made me laugh at myself was that moment before I thought of trying to capture the forms, when I was wishing there were some way to show what these mountains look like on November 21 at 3:37 until 3:59 PM. The moment just before the Great Notion — paint them, dummy! Duh.

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