Sunday, October 7, 2007

ArtPact #26

(Originally published on August 6, 2007).

After the sudden August winter we had here yesterday, the sun has graciously agreed to get back to its seat, allowing me to photograph my work.

As I lengthily stated in my
previous post, I am back to my self portrait. I am working small, in 5"x7" bozzettos, sticking with the same image, but trying different techniques, color schemes and styles. The idea is to experiment in small quick studies, and apply lessons I learn to the following versions.

I am working from a photo of myself. One that I truly like, taken by The JohnnyB. It's a challenging one, as it was taken at night, with a flash - not recommended when you need a reference photo to paint from. But in fact, the lack of inspiring light pattern is forcing me to find ways to make the painting interesting, so it has its merits.

I started in my usual style, rendering the face, religiously following the photo and trying to copy what I see. After the first one, I tried to move on to more exciting pastures, but I got stuck on copying for the next three attempts. The result: four bozzettos that are not really bad, but are not good either. They are hesitant, the colors are far from exciting. And, the ultimate original sin: they are overworked, and not in a good way.

The watercolor medium is the ultimate snitch when it comes to overworking. "Na na na na na", the bloody pigments taunt in that annoying watery voice, "Nava re-worked this to death! Heh heh!! Again!!! Hi hi!!!! Too funny!!!!!".

I was getting angry.

- - And bored.

- - - - And frustrated.

And I think it shows in the paintings. I swear I can hear my painted image yawning, "C'mon, have mercy! you can't leave me looking like that!".

It was midnight when I muttered to The JohnnyB, "I hope I don't end up never wanting to do a self-
portrait ever again!". I was tired, and yet, decided to do one last bozzetto, and just have fun. Squeezed fresh paint, choosing bolder, less sweet-looking colors, going for staining pigments, so I cannot lift and repaint, took the brush - - - and went into one of those the-hell-with-it modes of painting.

When I got back to my senses - I stared at the result, with sheer terror. 'coz I never, like, ever, painted this way!

And then (took me a a while!) I realized that, Uhm, I am really, y'know, liking it!

And, to my surprise, The JohnnyB liked it too, saying it's clean, confident and looks like I knew what I was doing. Perhaps this was one of those rare occasions when the hand was faster than the mind, and did whatever it felt like, while my left brain was watching with disgust, saying, "Oh, screw it! I'm off duty now!".

I went to sleep, very excited, got up (very excited!), looked at what I did at night - and gave it another, similar shot, just to see if I can do it in a post-coffee conscious state of being.

Apparently, I can. (the one on the left is the first one, the right one was done in the morning). Hey, I even gave myself a gorgeous pair of blue eyes as a reward!

Definitely a breakthrough, and just what Mike has ordered.

Now, the wonderful thing about hitting the wall of boredom and getting past it into creativity, is that your mind is starting to spawn more and more ideas, like some freakish alien.

I wanted to try them all - but I was starting to run out of paper.

So, I soaked and stretched four half-sheets of watercolor paper, and while waiting for them to dry, I decided to try something while they are still wet. I combined walnut ink (which I passionately love!) with a purplish ink, and had my way with both on a sheet of paper. That yielded some veeeeeeeeeeeery cool texture, which will become a painting some day (when I figure out what to do with it...).

"Hmm, I should try this on a bozzetto", I overjoyed, and reached, again, for the inks. Obviously, I failed to recreate the texture, but still got some beautiful backgrounds, on which I drew with a bamboo stick and a twig.

That resulted in an unusual level of fun - and these two:

Then I decided to revert to the safety of the monochromatic world, and thoroughly enjoyed doing this one:

T h e n -I tried painting on top of some text which I have transferred to the watercolor paper with Acrylic medium. Now, this medium changes the surface of the watercolor paper beyond recognition, so that the watercolor paint starts beading like crazy, and you end up pulling your hair and looking pretty much like the resulting image...

Hmm... interesting would be the right word for that one, Eh? Although, the more I look at it, it is starting to grow on me. It sure is expressive, and has some interesting modern-art looking potential. It's a known fact that good things can come out of accidents and alleged-failures. All I need to do now is practice saying "Oh, I meant to do that!", and define myself as an expressionist painter.

So: 10 bozzettos overall, and I already have two additional ones in their very early stage.

I am exhausted.

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