15" x 18" collage on paper
For the past several months I have been recording some things as I have been working. Just observations but I will pass them along. Who knows? Maybe someone reading will get an idea. Here they are:
* comparison of scale: is one piece really larger than another piece? I have trouble seeing this and that trouble shows up with lots of smaller pieces that are basically the same size. I think a landscape painter would have a similar issue. How much bigger is the foreground bush than the background bush? Are all of those potted plants really the same size? The whole problem speaks of proportion and variety.
* connecting values: Even for an artist working abstractly, connecting like values can be a factor. I am finding that if I am not careful, my pieces can look "spotty" and I think this is due in part to lots of different values scattered around the page. There isn't anything wrong with this but for me, it isn't what I want. So, I have been focusing on connecting like units of values to get a larger pattern when seen from a distance. Just backing up from the piece and trying to discern the pattern has been helpful.
* viewing positive and negative space: I have had some great comments lately about what people see in the positive and negative spaces within the work. It tells me that those two spaces have a combined and separate energy level, making the piece active and not static.
* Group shapes together: You could argue both sides of this. One dark valued shape is more powerful maybe than a lighter valued shape. But, my thought is that when you group like sized and like valued shapes together, they act as one unit and carry greater weight. I have certainly seen this in my own work lately and I think it speaks to the concept of weight.
* hue relationships: I found a couple of times now that placing complimentary colors next to each other can be really dynamic-nearly too dynamic in some cases. The other day I minimized that relationship by having one high chroma color of the complimentary pair and one duller color of the pair next to each other. It worked well in my opinion and again, speaks to weight and dominance.
During the course of the last couple of months, I have largely abandoned having any set preconceived notions of what these pieces are going to be. Looking for subject matter was causing me great anxiety. It caused me to get hung up on starting. Now, I start with a color scheme idea (loose) and a directional sketch and one simple shape. I may have a design idea I want to explore but I will abandon that if necessary if the piece takes on an interesting direction.
Additionally, for now, I have put aside the idea of an overt and specific narrative. I love the pieces I have done that seem to tell a little story. And I have received great feedback on those pieces. But, just like looking for specific subject matter, having to have a specific narrative stymies me. It's difficult to start. I want to start without being anxious and I want to make lots of work. I can't do that if I am having an existential angst fest every time I begin.
The last thing I would mention is that I have been working in a question and answer style format. It's been very helpful and though I am still developing it, I will pass along what I know. I think any painter could use the idea or modify it in order to problem solve. I start with one thing, say a shape or color. So, one large square medium valued shape of a red orange, low chroma color. Then I ask myself what the next opposite move could be. How about a smaller, dark valued high chroma shape such as a circle or rectangle? Where could I put that? I just keep going in this way, making one move based on the opposite of the last move, all the while trying to connect those moves on the page. I made a list too of different moves and their opposites. The whole thing has expanded my thinking a bit and made the possibility for problem solving a little easier.
OK, that's enough! I hope everyone has had a good week. Please let me know if any of the information above is useful.