More wet-on-dry monochromatic experiments using photographic sources.
Experimenting with wet on dry. Usually I don’t do this because I don’t have the patience to wait for a painting to dry before continuing to work on it. Some of these are worked from photographs, others from imagination.
I’m using only one colour of paint for each painting, lightening it with white and darkening it with black. This is an experiment to avoid hue issues in regard to my CVD.
This seems to be an awkward phase, but hopefully it’s heading somewhere. This painting prompted a re-think about colour, and about working tightly from casual sketches.
Another one made from a small sketch. I’m thinking maybe in future I should choose more carefully when I’m deciding which sketch to paint. The translation from black and white to colour involves depth effects that I’m still only beginning to understand. Still, I learnt a lot from painting this.
I used a limited palette of Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Cerulean Blue, and a muted brick-red (pre-mixed from Cadmium Red, Cadmium Orange and Burnt Umber). I think limiting the palette helped to unify my colours a little, although my use of them still went haywire. I didn’t use black, and the darkest tone possible from this palette wasn’t very dark. I also didn’t mix the light colours as light as I could have, so the overall contrast isn’t as high as I usually like it.
I tried to use colour in a way that’s sympathetic to the form and perspective. I kept in mind the idea that warm colours come forward, and cool colours retreat, and that saturated colours come forward and muted colours retreat. I didn’t apply these principles expertly, so the picture has strange inconsistent depth effects that don’t serve the image coherently, but I definitely got more familiar with this aspect of colour in the process of making this painting. The push-pull effects of colour are new to me, I didn’t intuitively have a sense of how that was working until I read some colour theory, but now I’m seeing how it works and I’m excited about finding ways to make the colours work with the image instead of working against it.
This is a reaction against the cartoonish saturated colours of the previous painting. Dirty colours, mostly from not washing the brushes when changing colour, keeping the tone steady enough to describe the form, but letting the hue crash about haphazardly. Even with the glasses on, my perception of hue is nowhere near as sensitive as normal vision, so it’s easy for me to accept jarring shifts in hue (many of which I probably can’t see at all) and allow tone to dominate the way I read the image.
This was painted impatiently, and some of it quite thickly. I prefer this surface to the previous painting. I know some post modernist painters have questioned the idea of gestural brushwork as “expressive”, making it out to be just another technique that acts as a sign. I don’t agree with that. I think it can function in that way, but when I paint like this it’s not to signal expression, it’s because I’m in an agitated state, and the result is a record or trace of that agitation.
Not nuts about this one. Colour, brushwork, composition, drawing – it all makes me think of amateurish children’s book illustration. Back to the drawing board.
This was based on a small sketch. I think I just didn’t have any good ideas about how to translate it into colour, or into paint. On the other hand, I think sometimes I learn most from trying to make paintings that I don’t yet know how to. This one is making me want to look again at colour theory.
Permanent Rose is the name of the red paint used to make the pinks on her dress, lips, and inside the cup. Lately I’ve been basing paintings on small drawings, scaling up the original sketch using a projector. Here’s the drawing for this painting.
There were a lot of thick outlines in 170520 Flowers in Cup, so with this painting I tried to define edges by tonal difference instead. Altogether, I find it an odd picture, especially how the top part doesn’t look like it comes from the same painting as the bottom part, in colour, paint handling, depth, etc.
Also unexpected was the way that a bright synthetic yellow glow seems to shine through the upper two-thirds of the picture, giving the whole thing a shrill citrus-y luminosity. With so much green and red, I didn’t expect the yellows to dominate in this way. Maybe it’s due to yellow being the colour common to the jacket, flesh, and trees, and maybe also because there are no blues or violets to balance the yellows.
I thought about going back in to “improve” parts of this, but I’ve decided to leave it as it is for now. I can’t place how I feel about it, so I’m keeping it as a record of my development.
This is the largest colour painting I’ve made so far. I mixed the colours from a collage of photographs I made, and the forms and tonal relationships come from a sketch. The most interesting part for me was the green linear structure behind the flowers – the way it corrals the composition and suggests to me some kind of movement or (at the bottom) an additional spacial structure.
I wore the colour-blindness glasses the whole time I was mixing and painting this. Apart from changing the balance of hues, they also reduce light levels, like sunglasses. When I took them off I was surprised by how bright the painting is.
This painting required mixing more colours than I’ve done previously, and in larger amounts. As usual, I made small paintings with the mixed paint that was left over. I hope that what I learn from making these will feed into future paintings.
I started this painting before I got the glasses for my colour blindness. The entire time I was painting it my focus was composition. Every element was put in (or removed) in order to create a composition that I found interesting, but still balanced. Somehow, despite all that, I’m not at all convinced that the result is balanced. However, in trying to achieve that, I’ve arrived at a kind of twisting ambiguous space that I find more interesting than my usual backgrounds (although the effect of it comes across better in person than on screen – the painting is almost 2 meters tall).
Here are a couple of closer detail photos. I don’t know what I think of this painting. I can’t easily place the feeling it gives me. The figure has a kind of ugly/stupid cartoonishness that reminds me a little of the CGI characters in Jordan Wolfson’s Riverboat Song video (2017), or Matt Furie’s Pepe the Frog, but the space in the painting is something else. I like that there’s something odd and unfamiliar to me about it. That seems promising.