Quick recap: For the past week I have been trying to flatten and simplify my artwork in an attempt to better understand the artist Milton Avery’s work. My sole purpose is to strengthen my own compositions by stripping my own work to its bare essentials, studying line, contemplating good design and then adding detail back in as I see fit.
This was way harder than I ever anticipated.
Here are the past few days paintings:
The first few days, you can see, I just couldn’t shake the texture and detail. When I finally got to the second to last painting, I had stripped my image of all depth and texture. I’m telling you, that painting is flat! But you know what, it was a little too flat for my own personal taste, so I tried it one more time.
Today’s version measures 18 x 24 inches and is a Gouache painting on 140 lb Cold Press paper.
I have to say, I’m not all that familiar with Gouache as a medium. I’ve only used it once or twice so far during this 365 challenge. I knew that the gouache paints would be opaque which I wanted, however, I thought I could layer this form of paint. Meaning, I could paint an area of the painting, let the paint dry and then add another layer over it. Oils and acrylics you can layer. watercolor paints become reactivated by the new paint and begin to move and blend on your paper. Gouache, when I went to add another top layer to an area, would reactivate into something similar to finger paint. Meaning, as I pulled my brush of new paint over dried paint, the bottom layer of paint would release and leave marks similar to running your finger through finger paint. It begins to look streaky and I could literally carve what ever I wanted into the newly activated wet paint. I mention this because I fought with this painting for like a day or so, continuously trying to add paint and instead, mostly removing the existing paint.
I slowly figured out to go with the flow. For instance, check out the top hillside. I have streaks of color running through the ochre colored hillside. The paints don’t blend easily, so I finally figured out to purposely not blend them.
However, I needed the water to be fully opaque to capture the stillness of the water, so for the water I struggled to paint as fast as I could to add some extra layers without disturbing the underlying paint.
Am I boring you with all this layer talk? Sorry about that!
I guess what I am trying to say, is I learned a lot this week. I kept failing and I’d try again, fail, try again…ect. Each time I’d let go a little more and I’d learn a little more.
I don’t think I will ever be as minimalist as Milton Avery, nor will I ever be a realist. I lie somewhere in that middle-grey area, a place where I will find my own niche. I’m still searching, still defining, still working that out.
I really like todays painting though, I feel like I captured the key elements of the image without going overboard. Not too much texture, not too much color, just tranquil, modern and old-fashioned all rolled into one.
A little bit of everything.