Working the Center: Day 22, Nov 22, 2009

A shortish day today. Lots of visitors, including old friends Fred and Betty, from last February, when they kept an eye on me from  Rhyolite, where they were caretakers. It was good to see them again; we spent a  couple hours just catching up. It was Fred and Betty with whom we traveled down Titus Canyon in March, a memorable trip.

But I did do some work: here are the tools of the day — palette knife and ancient brush.

I discovered with canvas that I could smear paint with the palette knife — very gooey paint, not meant to stand in nice ridges and icing-like curves, but just to slightly randomly lay down a streak of paint:

This streak then got brushed with the ancient tatted brush which no longer can hold paint — hence all it does is brush out what’s there.

Using the palette knife and old brush gives a very different look to the paint layer than brushing it on conventionally or laying it on so it dripped, as I did yesterday. The variety in layered looks enhances the variations that I hope will keep people looking further.

What I didn’t say yesterday, in that description of the frantic ten minutes trying to capture the¬† mountain forms, was that I spent most of the day working the center panel, and when I finished it was covered, layered, thickly saturated with a very light mottled pinkish beige. Jer’s honest opinion, pulled out of him reluctantly, was also mine, although I was hoping he’d contradict it. It was too much, too light, too out of character, too, too, too excessive.

So here’s yesterday’s center panel, followed by today’s. More Must Be Done:

Center Panel, November 21.

Center Panel, Nov 22.

It’s hard to evaluate these panels separately, although my fond hope is that each will stand on its own in the end. But to see how the center one looked with its companion on either side yesterday and today, here are a couple of photos.

Panels 3, 4, and 5, Nov. 21

Panels 3, 4, and 5, Nov 22

Granting the difference in lighting conditions (depends on where the sun is at any given photo opp), I am definitely happier with November 22.  Seen with the other four panels, the toning down of the center was essential, and it will probably get more.

I wrote down what I hoped for in this six week painting excursion. 1. That the whole would fit together harmonously — that the panels would form a unity; 2. That each panel would make a statement by itself, would be a painting that could stand on its own; and 3. that the panels would balance out, that none would push the others out of sight or diminish itself into nothingness.

I have (had?) other goals — that it would take more than a single 30 second look to get through this scene and that the casual observer would be tempted to walk along the panels and look at them more closely; that I could manage quirky light so that the close observer would understand it but the casual observer wouldn’t be daunted by the quirks; and that it wouldn’t be so boringly conventional as to give the attentive art observer the yawns.

The only thing I think I have at the moment for sure is balance —¬† the seven panels feel precisely the right weight to me. I hope that feeling continues. Some of the panels are pretty good paintings; some are not. The whole is definitely not achieved yet.

As for how others will react, well, all I can do is my best and then let the viewers decide, individually, as they take a look. The reaction thus far has been mixed, but then, the paintings thus far have been mixed.

Tomorrow is Monday and I will begin again.

Reporting from the Goldwell House in Beatty, Nevada, where the Sutter’s Home wine is just fine after a day of painting and socializing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *