I've started to feel that, in painting, there are no small changes. Broad or slight adjustments both make something completely new. You can work on an image for years, scraping the form to illegibility at the end of each session, painting it back the next day--until something happens that you recognize.
The following two figures took weeks not years, but a continuous transformation of the image was what I was looking for. It felt crucial to risk form, color, whatever was already strong, to extend & open-out the painting.
The first day on "Water Garden" gave me a basic drawing in color. The balanced motion of the figure was lost & regained over time.
|"Water Garden" - version 1|
I usually take photographs at the end of the day & often shift to black & white to focus on structure. In this version, the figure has changed from fluid roundness to sharp angularity. I'm testing the waters to see how far to push toward abstraction & find an alternate way to thread the figure through the space.
|"Water Garden" - version 3|
Most of the linear elements & color-notes of the finished painting are suggested but not integrated here. The result is that the figure feels generalized & also disconnected from the surroundings.
|"Water Garden" - version 6|
In the final image, heavier paint application & surface density helped to solve some problems.
|"Water Garden" - oil on canvas, 36" X 36"|
Near the end of "Water Garden", I started a second, smaller painting of the same pose just to see where it might go. "Water Garden 2" began with less drawing but more segmented color. Still, the dominance of mass over contour was a useful starting point.
|"Water Garden 2"- version 1|
There weren't many details in the next version; even so, I felt like I'd veered too close to the source material (sketches & photos from the model). If I'd continued in this way, the results might have been more of a drawing than a painting.
|"Water Garden 2"- version 2|
Here, though the forms were awkward & indistinct, I'd started to pull one color through another. It wasn't unified yet, but it was on its way.
|"Water Garden 2"- version 3|
The living compromise is the painting you end up with. If you need to, you can always deceive yourself into thinking it was fully intentional.
|"Water Garden 2"- oil on canvas, 24" X 20"|