"A portrait is not an identificative paper but rather the curve of an emotion" -James Joyce

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Break from People

  After rolling up my canvases and having them inspected routinely by TSA agents in customs, and despite the many small bugs in the crevices of the brushwork, I got these three large paintings (4 x 5 feet) home and now I am currently re-stretching them.  Normally they would be complete by the standards that I often use, but I hope to work into them a bit more, hopefully deconstructing them a little bit and opening them up slightly.  Maybe destroying parts of them matching the way I remember the places themselves.  I was slightly restrained with regard to the level of impasto or type of medium I could use in anticipation of them surviving the travel.
     They are clearly landscapes, and I tried hard to explore the place in which these trees existed, and how they visually reacted to and described an area, a time, and a mood.  I have always attempted to fully import emotion via brushwork and tempo into my work.  In some portraiture lately I focused heavily on the psychological aspect of portrait disregarding the location or place and concerning myself mostly with a pure and singular approach to the person.
     Trying to capture a moment in time in the life of a sitting person can encompass a level of honesty as people at times can sit still, even though my response to them is in flux over time.  But a landscape has an aspect of the ridiculous in this format, as it is changing constantly.  Working from observation is somewhat important to me as it provides the problem-solving activity that I find challenging.  I am going however to include my more recent experience with a studio practice methodology and hopefully bring some less literal elements into the three of them.
     A moment in time is something I have been thinking about a lot as it relates to what Roland Barthes calls the filmic, as in a still shot from a movie.  It offers a pregnant moment that is fairly open to interpretation and loaded with action that has yet to happen.  The effect can be true to the way an artist sees something before work is even started.  In this spirit, these paintings are in a way portraits.  Of trees, of my mental state, of my struggle with painting.  One positive that I hope to gain from them as I re-enter my work in portraiture is fairly technical.  I have been challenged to use more color and more paint, to widen my repertoire of mark making and to push backgrounds and paintings in general further. I feel i have accomplished some of that.   Basically an added amount of struggle felt kind of good. Thematically fitting these paintings into the general body of my most recent work is my next step.

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