Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Getting to the Essence of a Thing

Portrait of a Tree - Autumn, Acrylic on Watercolor Paper, 6"x6", SOLD
September 2015 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge!

Good news! Another 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge begins on September 1 - that's next week. I will be participating and hope you will follow me on my adventure. I will be continuing my exploration of the intersection between abstraction and the representational.  I will also be exploring the idea of painting or capturing the essence or heart of a subject. To get at that, I plan to use a methodology that has worked for me before (although on a one-off basis) and try to expand it to work for a broader range of subjects and also to practice it sufficiently to be able to call on it when creating future paintings.I call it "Getting to the Essence of a Thing".

Getting to the Essence of a Thing:
I have always been a verbal person - describing something in words allows me to see it in my mind's eye. This methodology uses that predilection to help me focus on the essential and discard the superfluous. It works as follows:
  • For each painting, I choose a subject. 
  • Then I write down what I think defines the essence of that subject - what is needed to define or describe that subject, stripped down to the basics. 
  • That is what I paint, using a combination of abstract and representational elements. The idea is that what doesn't actively contribute to a painting, detracts from it.  
For the month of September, I will use this approach for each of my paintings, posting both the description and the painting each day. I will also be adding them to the gallery at Leslie Saeta's Slices of Life blog as part of the September 2015 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge.

"Portrait of a Tree - Autumn": 
To give you an idea of what "Getting to the Essence" entails, let me describe the painting above.  It is called "Portrait of a Tree-Autumn."  Before I started painting, I wrote a description of what I thought would be needed to define a tree in autumn.  Thus:
  • A tree needs to have a trunk. We would not necessarily recognize that something is a tree unless it has a trunk to support it.
  • A tree needs to be planted in the ground; they are rooted in the earth.
  • A tree has branches - maybe one, maybe more - although a young tree could be without branches.
  • A tree in autumn (I live in New England) needs some colored leaves.  
And that is what I painted. I used acrylic paint on watercolor paper; I used fracturing and a palette knife to create the branches and textures.

Barn #5-Barn Door:
The following painting is another example of this approach although it is entirely abstract.
Barn #5 - Barn Door, Acrylic on Crescent Board, 10"x10", NFS
For this painting, the description is as follows (I used old, New England barns as my jumping off point):
  • An old barn has a siding of rough boards that can be weathered gray or have varying amounts of red paint on them.
  • An old barn is frequently missing it's window panes; the windows and doors are empty, black, openings through which you can occasionally see a hint of some old object or another.
  • An old barn's paint is frequently peeling or patchy.
  • Barns come in all shapes and sizes, so there is no one shape to make the barn. 
In the painting, I used a palette knife to create a close up of the flaking, peeling, patchy siding and avoided defining the building's shape by making the painting an all-over close-up of part of one side of the barn. I included abstracted window and door openings, hinting at things inside that cannot be adequately seen or described.

Buying the Challenge Paintings:
Some will be for sale, some won't be. For those that are for sale, the prices will basically be a 30 Day Challenge Special - once the Challenge is over, I touch them up, put them in frames, and prepare them for life in a gallery, with prices to match.