The Good, The Bad and The Ugly



This canvas was inspired by a picture I had seen in a magazine.  Although it had a simple composition, its impact was so powerful to me, that the image percolated an idea in the back of my mind to put to canvas. The drama of the concept was to portray a  dark background with a smaller figure in the light. I thought it would be easy, a no brainer. My figure would tell a specific story, and emotion. However, as I prepared the canvas with the dark paint, things began to erupt beneath the surface. I liked the lighter areas coming up from the paint, but how would I incorporate them into the painting? I added even darker paint to distinguish the light and the painting took a different direction away from my original idea.  So I did what every “sane” painter does at that moment and walked away from the canvas.

Coming back to it the next day, I knew I needed to paint in the figure. I was excited about how the brushstrokes and pieces of paint came together. She was one of those happy accidents. I did not use a reference, just let the story tell itself in paint. As I walked back to look at the work, it was a big “uh-oh” moment, the image was fine, the background interesting, but they had no relationship to each other. So I worked on the background but still walked away frustrated.

The interesting thing about this painting has to do with the concept of personal relationships, and the (in)ability to walk in each others shoes.  Much like relationships, sometimes things meld and sometimes they don’t. Here my issue is the relationship between subject and background. Frustration occurs when you don’t get what you want out of them. So do I go back to the original inner vision and work the drama against the subject? Or do I make the painting story more literal to the viewer. Do we paint to impact other people or  do we just  paint to paint?


Point of View?








I have this painting that I started months ago sitting on my easel. It’s like it shakes it’s fingers at me daily, finish me….finish me! I started out really psyched about it. All this grey architecture with a single pigeon sitting on the ledge.  It represents my favorite city, Venice, with the iconoclastic pigeons of St. Mark’s landing all over the beautiful buildings. The scale is large and dramatic. So why can’t I finish it? For awhile, I put the canvas aside, but put it back on the easel with the intent of painting. I just couldn’t get motivated to put paint to this canvas.  I have completed 5 paintings since starting this one. The new paintings seemed to flow from the beginning, the feeling I was after didn’t create problems so the work progressed to the end. Putting the painting that is in your head onto canvas is not always an easy ride. This particular unfinished painting bugs me in a way that I can’t articulate.  I keep asking myself if I should gesso over it and start something new or just plunge in and force myself to face the work until I’m finished.  The easiest thing for me to do is gesso over it, but if I do that then I am ignoring the challenge of learning something new about myself.


On the Ledge?



~ by theartistspaintbox on October 7, 2010.

One Response to “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”

  1. N…No gesso. Put it aside and come back to it when you have forgotten that it exists.

    S…Paint to paint. Forget about us, the peons.

    But, what do I know?

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