Monday, June 21, 2010

operating blind

With all good intentions of following my self-directive on how to create the next iteration of panels, I've spent the past three days -- well, just painting. The only extent to which I am honoring my concept of portraying the landscape here is to create panels in roughly three groups, referencing skies, cliffs, and fields. The only differentiation among the groups at this point, as far as I am aware, is color. Speaking very broadly, sky panels are in the blue family, cliffs in the red family, fields in the green family. But my marks, and any shifts in value, edge, or hue, are purely the result of flying blind. I still don't know what I'm doing, although I like the outcome.

My notes from my travels last week are not helpful, because all they do is predetermine what I try to paint. It is not working. For example, I had an inspiration while driving through a canyon to create a red 12x12 with blobs of green along the bottom to give the feel of how the tall cottonwoods are dwarfed by the canyon walls. As soon as I began to work this onto the panel, I lost the freedom to follow the paint, because I was tied to the design. How can I find a middle ground, and paint abstractly but still capture something like that feeling of trees and rock that I so love? How can I reference and not represent?

I just remembered a wonderful book about abstraction that I read a few years ago. Mondrian 1892-1914: The path to abstraction focuses on the process the artist went through in shifting from traditional landscapes to his famous grid paintings. There was an example (one among several) of a tree painted representationally, and then made abstract over a series of other examples. At the time, I read the book out of interest unrelated to my own processes. I think it is time for a second reading.

It is one thing to lay out paint on the palette and just begin to play. But if I have an intention, if I have something I want to express, I'm not sure how to get there by just playing. I suppose that in operating intuitively, the intention will be expressed one way or another. Perhaps that is a method: to conceive the intention mentally and emotionally, but then let it go when I paint. Is it a matter of being too self-conscious? Is it a question of control? I do know one thing: The only way to find the answers that I seek is to keep painting.

No comments: