|All For One and One For All|
24" x 24"
Painted acrylic paper on 1" hardwood panel
I learned some key things this week while making the above piece and I would like to share them. It helps me to write about things and maybe it will help someone too who is reading. Here goes!
Simple Narratives: Rich walked into the studio and so of course, I asked him what he saw. He first asked if the people would get caps. Then he said that they were very happy. Then, after I asked him what he thought they were doing, he said that the people in front are blue and are hydrated. The people in back, who are brown and red, are dehydrated. OK, good enough.
Developing a painting with a simple and direct narrative is a challenge. I need training in illustration and graphic arts I suppose. I might want to communicate a deep message about water scarcity in the West, water brokering, and thousands of people suffering from water insecurity. That is a very tall order and way beyond my skill set. However, a very basic depiction of the idea of water, those who have it in some way and those who don't, suits me just fine. Just fine. I would add too, to emphasize the next point, that I was not going to make those figures blue. I was so stuck on the color scheme that I almost missed an opportunity. Luckily the paper I had painted didn't work and so I decided to try the blue instead. Glad that I did.
Serve the painting: Forget the rules, forget the symmetry. Forget your original plan. (Maybe not the spine of the idea assuming it is strong but the general outline-what you thought you were going to do in a loose way.) Make good decisions that advance the piece. Make a good piece by paying attention to what it is asking for. I am reminded of Diebenkorn's notes to himself on beginning a painting. My interpretation of those 10 key points is that they serve as a reminder to advance both the painter and the painting. Each decision moves both the painting and the painter forward.
Every color has a role even if it isn't obvious at first: I almost discarded the pale red orange colors (shown at the back of the piece), believing them to be washed out. It's easy to forget with these paper paintings that they need to be treated as a whole, just as you would with a regular painting. Placement of color matters. Those tints ended up being important to me. It seems to me that the figures are smaller and could be farther away, and for that, a less chromatic tint makes perfect sense.
Texture: This week I have tried to incorporate some "texture" into my work. For me, texture could be physical such as brush marks or something else like writing or patterns. My initial attempts didn't work well. I think it is an issue of uniformity or sameness. The texture was too dissimilar somehow from the rest of the painted paper. It stood out too much. Back to the drawing board!
Editing: I discarded several ideas before I got to this one. I also had to make decisions about how much of each figure to show and also how realistic I wanted to be with the fundamentals of anatomy. It's my hope that it works.
For those who are interested, I based this piece on several articles that I have read lately regarding water insecurity and the ownership of water both as a resource and as a commodity. I also came across a book in which the author advocates the collective ownership of water through shared responsibility for that resource. It's heady stuff to be sure. I can only say that in our country, given our resources and government, I simply can't fathom why anyone would have to go without clean and reliable water. But they do and in vast numbers. I felt a very simple piece showing the idea of water and people grouped together reaching out for such a basic thing would be the best way to go.
OK, hope everyone had a good week. Thanks for reading and commenting.