Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Year of The Mouse

Do not trap the mouse - that was the big challenge today, the second day of the workshop with John Salminen.

Remember the big white shape we each found
yesterday? One of the requirements was that it is continuous, as the eye needs to see white as a continuous shape. Scattered whites will cause the eye to jump all over the painting, rather than smoothly follow. To make sure we do not forget that, the instructor told us to think of the white shape as a maze with a mouse that's running inside it. the mouse has to be able to run around without bumping into any obstacles or having to jump.
OK, we all tried our best to keep that in mind.

Now that we all had a nice white shape, we were to come up with a dark shape. As opposed to white, a dark shape can be broken, and the brain will connect the parts and see it as one shape that's underneath the white. John warned us that blocking in the dark shape will immediately make the painting look terrible. The extreme contrast is so striking it seems almost garish and makes the white shape seems to float on top and the darks are way underneath.

Yup - he is right.

The next stage was to go for linkage - create value passages that will tie the white and the darks. This is done by gradually building up from white to light to middle values (and the same for the darks), making sure to keep our shapes interesting and - - - yup, to not cause any distress to the mouse.

We spent the rest of the day doing that, grunting and muttering the whole time. At one point, TreasieJ asked when would be the right time to burst into tears... indeed, like in all workshops, this was much, much harder and bewildering than it looks when the instructor does it. They always come with gorgeous results, and we... we end up gazing with horror at what our hands produce!

But very slowly, things started to shape up. More important: the paintings are beginning to look different, and the style and personality of each artist is coming through. Each of us had a private session with John, in which we put the painting on an easel, and he would look at it, silently, for a frightening while, and then give his critique and ideas for improvement.

I've got to tell ya - this is one exhausting workshop! Which is my excuse for this dry post.

That is the stage my painting is at right now. Tomorrow we'll be incorporating collage and acrylics to our painting - and THAT should be fun!!!

What's that you're askin'? Do I like my painting??

Well, to be honest: not really.

This is so not the way I paint, and every right brain cell of mine is protesting against this process and the subject. But I keep telling myself that this is a workshop. It does not mean I need to start painting like this from now on. It's about coming out of it with some valuable lessons that I can - hopefully - incorporate in what I love to do.

So no, this week is not going to turn me into a non-objective painter. I still am very much into figures and faces, and spontaneous expressiveness. And yet - would be interesting to see how I paint when I get to paint again in my studio.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Keep on goin', Girl. This is just the awkward stage. You are building a house here . . . and there are a lot of boards to go. You CAN do this! What's more, all of this applies to realistic painting, too!