Monday, November 9, 2009


Or, "the bathwater is too hot," but whichever it is -- it's good. As you may have surmised from my previous posts, I've been struggling with my paintwork. I'm trying to redefine my "painting paradigm," to aim for more objective, realistic effects, rather than, well...what I thought was realistic. Certain areas of my skill set needed updating or a new perspective. This has held up the completion of many painting projects, however, because I couldn't bear to paint in a way that I wasn't happy with -- I don't like spinning wheels. But I had a series of massive "ah-ha" moments thanks, again, to writing for The Boat (specifically for Part II of my painting conventions series). Two trouble areas for me, in particular, were eyes and facial fleshy areas.

I've been frustrated with the painting of my horse eyes -- they weren't exactly what I wanted. Plus, I was confused by what I was seeing in life study -- I just couldn't make sense of what I observed in life and then because of that, I had difficulty rectifying that with what I was comfortable painting. So -- kick the "same 'ol" routine out the door and time for some open-minded research with fresh eyes. And WHAM! Now I get it! It's funny how you can look at something...earnestly look at something...for decades and still not see what you needed to see. Every insight comes in its own time. Now I understand what I was seeing in life study, and why it occurs -- so now I can start painting my eyes with renewed confidence.

I've also had a hard time with painting the fleshy areas of horses -- the muzzle, eye area and inner ear. These facial areas are remarkably difficult to paint if you're aiming to mimic the various effects you find there -- especially when they aren't shaved and baby-oiled like you would see in a horse show. But again, thanks for writing for that segment in the series -- I get it now! New effects and using new colors. I'm looking at these areas with fresh eyes and that has totally opened up new possibilities. I'm not going to take anything about painting realistically for granted anymore. Amen! Testify!

I've inputted these lessons in the sooty dun paint job I just finished* -- this piece was a guinea pig of sorts for these new ideas. Now, admittedly, I started the experiment not entirely sure these new ideas would work in application. Often what we see in life doesn't translate well in a paint job. But now that the piece is done, I cannot be more thrilled with how well these new interpretations worked! I'm now able to achieve the look I've been after!

What was especially interesting to me was how badly my eye and brain wanted to revert back to the old habits. These new takes on reality were a "hard sell" to them. But once completed, it's like they totally bailed on the old team and switched sides. Perhaps it takes a good uncomfortable jolt now and again to realign artistic development. Crank up the juice!

So now I'm full bore back at work
on Lynn Fraley's wonderful Bram'll Blue Boy! He's not anywhere near done (above), since these are only the preliminary layers. But these first layers are just as important -- they establish the "palette" of the piece, and coat depth and layering, which is especially important for a complex pattern such as this, a dapple grey. He's going to benefit from all the lessons I've learned, and I'm very excited to see if I can pull it off again, especially at this smaller scale. I hope to have him done in about a month.

(*But yes -- it's done! I'm just waiting for the custom made marble base to be finished for it.)

"To the artist is sometimes granted a sudden, transient insight... A flash, and where previously the brain held a dead fact, the soul grasps a living truth!" ~ Arnold Bennett

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