Friday, November 30, 2007

...Meanwhile, At Sam's

Remember Sam?

No, I haven't given up on him. I merely switched to the multi-tasking mode between him and the fair
MistyN. I am finally starting to make my comeback from the comfort zone of bozzettos, in which I found a cozy shelter during busy times, to the world of painting, which I haven't done for quite a while.

With shaking hands, a bit unnerved, I went for it. I stuck with the same materials I used when I did my last self portrait: a combination of Walnut ink and a shellac based ink. I fell in love with the technique, and thought Sam would be a percept subject to try it again.

Only - I made the mistake of beginners: solely concentrating on the portrait, totally oblivious to the background. I got so involved with the face, that I went too dark.
It was now unrelated to the background.

Took it for trial to my critique group. Everyone liked the portrait, and unanimously claimed I need to tie the background with the face and darken to unify the painting.

So I did . . .

. . . but now, Sam was so unified with the background, that he was pretty much lost. It all became one dark confusing blob, and some confusing light shapes (it looks much better in this photo than in real life).

I started chanting the mantra "It's just a piece of paper", which Paintermon taught us, but even that didn't help.

So, I emailed my attempt to LimaB. She promptly called and gently asked what I was trying to achieve (a nice way to say 'what the hell did you do!?').

"I tried to darken the background", I confessed.

"Well", she said, carefully choosing her words, "you definitely succeeded...".

"...and I tried to portray the feeling of despair", I continued - and due to her very-restrained silence, I added what she did not dare uttering, "And I definitely achieved a huge success in that, too, Ha?!", which was followed by a loud laughter of us both. That's one thing I love about LimaB - she never lies about what she's thinking.

I was discouraged that my first attempt was such a failure. I know, it's just a silly painting, but that, plus a couple of weeks of gloomy thoughts about existential matters and nights of going to bed after 3am, contributed to a very mirky mood. Interesting, how my paintings reflect the way I feel!

Then, on Wednesday night, around 1:30am, I was gazing at the painting that was displayed on the mantle, a burning reminder to my cursed tendency to mess up. Thursday was critique day - and I was determined to show it to the group, claim it as a failure, and see if anyone had a brilliant suggestion of how to save it. I was already considering collaging on top, or floating with white gesso, or just moving on.

Then I had the epiphany: I want Sam to be a bit lighter, right? The inks would not lift, eh? So, the only way to do so is to darken the background even more. I know - it required courage. But hey, the painting was at that freeing nothing-to-lose phase. I went for it. Poured the inks in full concentartion, smeared around, added some stamping, used a twig to make lines, sprayed with water, introduced some white gouache - it suddenly became a whole lot of fun!

I crashed to bed around 3am, leaving Sam to dry - and to his fate.

The next morning I looked at it, realizing I have never painted like that before. It was bolder than anything I ever did. It wasn't a pretty painting, not something that would get a lot of positive comments from those who look for nice soothing pictures above the sofa.

I love it!

So did the critique group - including LimaB. Even The JohnnyB, who was devastated by the way I rendered Sam, says it's improved.

And Sam? He seems to be smiling a bit.

On to the next version.

1 comment:

Valerie said...

Sam is stunning, but I don't see despair, I see acceptance?? He's a wonderful painting though. You're reaching a different level these days.

Good on ya, mate!