Monday, August 17, 2009

Technically, Take Two, but "Take Five" anyway

"Take Two"

"Stuart Island" take one

I was looking at the "Stuart Island" painting the other day. Propped up on my studio ledge, it looked pretty sad. And pretty far away from my original idea about the painting. That seems to happen to me from time to time. I have a clear idea about what I want to paint before I begin. As I paint I lose my original idea. I'm not sure how that happens exactly, but I get away from the idea and muddle around. Finally, I say I'm finished when I can't possibly muddle any more without drawing blood. Or something.

What inspired me with this painting was the feeling I had of BIG SHAPES. The big shape of the land that I was gratefully standing on (it had been a while since I had stepped on land). Next, the big shape of the water. All of that water out there, pulling and pushing, surging, changing direction with the pull of the tides. The narrow bits of land were like flat fingers, laying across the heavy flat horizontal of the water.

When I painted it the first time, I got lost in the grasses and dirt and the changes of texture of the land. That broke up the shape more than I liked. The same thing happened with the water. The wind and currents pulled on the water and shifted the colors into cells of blue and I lost the big shape of the water.

And, once I put it up to view it on the ledge, it was obvious that my horizon line dropped off the page. T-square. I should remember my T-square for watery horizons.

With a 4" nylon brush, I erased my first attempt at "Stuart Island" outside in the bark dust.

I wrote "BIG SHAPES" on a sticky note and put it on my easel and tried again. Now you can see why it's "Take Two." Brubeck's "Take Five" reminds me that if I don't first succeed, it's okay to try again and again.


Celeste Bergin said...

I just had a similar thing where I changed a painting and feel that I saved it from the scrap heap. I didn't think to take before and after shots. It was fun reading about your process and seeing the comparison.
Take two looks more water-y for sure!

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Thanks, Celeste. I'll go look at your painting!