What am I working on? Well, it's finally dawned on me that by having several paintings going simultaneously, I can think about a painting's themes and elements and not push myself into quick and rash decision-making. Monday Night Drawing, or in my case, watercolor sketching, has had me unable to spend any more than 25 to 30 minutes on a painting. I've broken through that barrier by shifting to larger paper, acquiring better brushes--there's absolute magic (what snap and texture!) in Winsor Newton's Series 7 Kolinsky sable brushes--and redesigning the layout of my watercolor palettes.
So, that being said, I have three larger watercolor pieces on the worktable and easels where I can stare, ponder, reassess, add, shift, change or re-think the direction in which they're heading. One's directly related to the figure work that happens each Monday night; the other two are portraits--one from life; the other is based on a very old, small Polaroid photograph. By comparing and addressing three paintings simultaneously, I'm discovering that I can better see color contrasts, mood, composition strength, and better think about the principles of design. The elements of design...I'm okay with them, but by focusing on the principles I'm trying to create a sense of "unity" across paintings, rather than just within one. Does that make sense?
Piece number one, "Portrait of Mark" (or "The Bookman", as titled by the sitter), is an 18 x 24 full portrait that I've been at for a while. Begun a year or more ago, I reached a point where I had no idea about where to go with it. Today, I have a few ideas about its future. Piece number two is a male figure study on a full sized sheet of watercolor paper. It is based on a small Paul Cadmus sketch, but is diffused by its somewhat skewed, gridded background. Piece number three is somewhat allegorical, based on a nearly 60-year-old snapshot, but basically it's a 'partial family portrait' within a 'partial landscape'. MY hope is to have it read as sort of a murky memory that registers with all viewers. Portions of each painting can be seen on the "In progress" link.