In my relationship to color, I have never been careful.
I’ve just arrived at the end of my next session on this painting, and I can see some rudimentary color “themes” coming forward and some birdlike things happening with form. I began developing the color fields and establishing the noisy, frenetic lines of the tree branches – the painting has begun to take on a more significant weight. The experimentation with hue usually takes place right on the surface of the canvas, and if I don’t like what is happening, I treat it as a challenge that must somehow be incorporated or subordinated.
This last method has led me to some nasty results, since often I begin the work with charcoal. In earlier paintings, I struggled with a mucky, gray surface due to the water and paint interaction with the charcoal. Usually I could reduce this effect by intermittently applying coats of charcoal fixative spray, and probably lost a few brain cells and olfactory receptors in the process due to often poor ventilation. Also, that working routine was annoying, far too stop-and-go, and I was forced to wait for the fixative to dry. Finally, the spray often added a miniscule yet palpable tooth to the surface and gave the paint sitting on top of it a dry, used and veneer-like quality. To these setbacks, one can only say, “Non mais allo quoi!”
In this work, I’m getting past the charcoal by applying paint thickly over it, allowing enough to show through only to add shadows and define strong lines where needed. The color sits on top and shines through to make the painting pop and get past that gray, brackish feel. I decided for now to go with a sort of complementary color theme in different regions of the piece, realizing that to leave it this way will render it far too “third grade color wheel art assignment.” The complementary colors, I hope, will add a rhythm and familiarity to a painting throbbing with light. Later, I will develop them beyond the literal cadmium reds, dioxazine purples, cobalt blues, to mature the field and add creativity, uniqueness, nerve, and talent.
Lastly, I played with adding interest with crows. In Minneapolitan neighborhoods I’m used to inhabiting, every winter there is a large “murder” of crows (come on, don’t worry, no crows have been harmed in the making of this piece…a “murder” is just what a huge flock of them is called) that descends and flies around all night. There are literally thousands of them flapping around, cawing, roosting all together, completely covering cars in glutinous feces. I have no idea why they do this, but they are really impressive to see! I’m thinking they will play a small or a large part in the shapes repeated in this painting, however I want to stay away from representing any form too literally. After all, this piece is all about the colors!