Friday, 2 March 2012

Engedi: If at first you don't succeed...

I technically started on my piece for the upcoming Engedi Exhibition/Project as soon as I got the brief, although the source material and basic idea were already in hand - I just needed a reason to use them! So all my research and planning was done ages ago, I needed to get the exhibition in Rhyl up and sorted so I didn't want to actually start painting until that was out of the way... I don't want to give too much away about my plans for this piece - for once I'm going to keep my cards close to my chest until I've got the painting done - partly because I'd like the first time people see the finished piece to be in the exhibition itself and secondly just in case it all goes tits up and I have to cobble together a plan.b at the very last minute people hopefully won't notice!! 

I have to be honest and say It's been a bit of a challenge so far, but I've never been one to shy away from doing something difficult/challenging especially if there's a nice deadline attached to it... at least this time the deadline was a couple of months rather than next week... oh wait it is actually now due next week. Fuck.

So here's the story of my painting so far, like I said it's been a bit of a nightmare... a couple of false starts, outside life/work stress impacting on studio time/productivity... ah the joys of been an artist eh!

Attempt Number 1
So about 3 weeks ago I began work on the actual painting, now I normally sketch out outlines/ideas etc first and transfer them onto the panel/canvas and work on top of that, but for some strange reason I decided to do a very basic quick sketch direct onto the panel and start painting on top... I'm sure this would of been fine if the source photograph I'm using didn't contain lots of confusing crossing and overlapping lines/tones/shadows... This story ends with me getting extremely frustrated and in a temper getting the gesso out and painting the whole thing white.... 

Attempt Number 2
Having failed miserably without the aid of a proper sketched out underdrawing, I made sure I started off with one for this attempt... the drawing itself looked good, I'd got the masses of crossing/overlapping lines figured out and simplified them into blocks of tones/highlights, in fact it was all going well until I started applying paint... again I seem to of shot myself in the foot by doing something I don't normally do whilst painting, I tried to so an underpainting... normally I do a rough blocking in using the colours that'll be using throughout the painting and build up the painting from there, but this time, against my better judgement I used really light tones to do an underpainting... not sure what the logic behind this idea was - I wasn't even using complimentary colours!? Needless to say by the time it came to building layers of colours/glazes and blending it all together it began to look like melted Neapolitan ice cream...
It quickly dawned on me that it would take alot of work and paint to rescue it so out came the gesso again.... However, whilst sat sulking and folding the photo I was using as a reference into a tiny rectangle I had a brainwave!!

Attempt Number 3
My brainwave was to simplify the whole painting! I was getting bogged down in plotting out all the various areas of tones/highlights/shadows in relation to all the crossing lines and it was making it more confusing that it needed to be, composition wise it wasn't great either, there would of been too much going on and unless I kept control of the direction of the lines/tones/shadows etc it would of come out looking like a confused mess! So I cropped my source photo, recycled the sketch I'd done for Attempt 2 - cropping it to match the source photo, transferred it onto the panel, mixed my colours, got my blocking-in done and after a few days away from the studio in work, I went back on Monday to start blending/glazing etc, and so far I'm really pleased with the progress!! I did have a bit of self doubt on Tuesday night that my colours weren't quite right, but a chat with the wonderfully talented painter Rosemary Sharman  soon cleared that up, and after a pep talk mixed with an informal crit/tutorial she sent me back to the studio with some tubes of paint from her paint stash and it's made a big difference... it's actually amazing to see how a subtle change in the shade of a colour can make a big difference! so a big thank you to Rosemary! Although I still have a painting to finish so I best shut up and get back to the studio... 

Here's some shots of the studio during the painting this week, I've taken photos of the two aborted paintings they might surface as a plan.b if I don't get this one finished.... 







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