The result: 5109
Here you see the final result of a reworked painting. Sometimes I’m not entirely happy with a painting for some reason or other. If I can pinpoint the problem I’ll fix it of course, but sometimes the unrest starts quite a while after I have finished the painting. Often, when I actually start reworking a painting, it just gets worse, so I don’t change my paintings often. I prefer to go forward and reworking a painting is just backward to me. Also I find that some paintings I’m not entirely happy about are just perfect for others. It just shows that if you like one of my paintings you’ll have to take it away from me to prevent me from changing it. But if you leave it with me I might change it some day. This was the case with 5009. This just had a certain gloom I was done with after about a year. At first I didn’t see the problem, but after a while I decided I needed to rework this one. I also decided the sun peeking through a cloud was just too tacky anyway. With the recent cold weather I had seen some interesting ice formations and made a little study(5106). Suddenly I realized this was what I wanted to change. I added the ice and shrubs, basically toned down the sky in 5009 and it changed into 5109.
The study: 5106
Covering the ears made no difference:
the noise seemed to resonate the body tissue from within.
A deep rumbling torture.
It was no use shouting.
Eyes, watering from metallic oil fumes and some undefined noxious stench, caused blurred visions of wheels and levers.
In the distance a few patches of blue laced the dark skies.
Far away windows to a tantalizingly clear stratosphere occurred.
Weary builders cheered. Another element vanquished?
The sun catches some rocks in a secluded canyon.
Finished this one. It took a while as I couldn’ t decide if I would ad more, but here it is. No more changes. I’ll back off now! Starting a new one…
The weather improves and the urge to be outdoors becomes very strong. So why not go out with the easel and box of paints and brushes? The colours and subjects are there right before you! No lack of inspiration to the “plein air” painter. Well maybe, but I’m not one of those. I see the colours and landscape, the sky and streaming sunlight, but to me they are not subjects for painting. They are elements for painting, but actually looking at a landscape and jotting them on a canvas ruins my view. I do want to go out with a camera and capture the moment, but in my paintings I need that other moment that is never actually there except in my mind or on my canvas. I can paint outside, but several elements form my landscape: a sky I saw yesterday, a building I encountered somewhere. Painting what I see makes me restless and impatient. To use the camera suits me at such moments. When I paint outside it is never the landscape before me. I can draw as I would draw schematics to remember the landscape or a composition, but later I might draw or paint my true impression of the landscape I saw. I will use the sky I saw yesterday, move the mountain to the centre, grow a rock or two and add an animal I know could be there somewhere. Meanwhile the outdoors is just another well lit studio.
Painting outdoors, but not the actual landcape.
While painting you could always technically improve your picture until at some time it might be “perfect”.
But sometimes a “flaw” makes a painting more interesting, so it is hard to decide to change something after a long time. Usually, I make small changes within the first few months. So when to finish?
I suppose this coincides with the stage where any improvement I try doesn’t really work. There’s this self portrait for instance where the rear of the room is slightly askew because I drew it like that in the sketch. Working on the painting I was on my way to correct this as I realised the “wrong” perspective worked better than the intended straight “horizon”. Perspective can be measured an any viewer who knows how to do that can find the flaws, so it is tempting to try and fix them all. It’s the same with wayward brushstrokes that I made while setting up the painting or smudges that are supposed to grow into an object. Sometimes leaving the brushstrokes or even blurring earlier details make a much stronger effect than completely working it.
I’ve heard someone say every artist should have somebody who takes a painting away before he works on it too long.
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The start of a 17/12cm
Starting a large canvas is a daunting thing. There are huge surfaces of emptiness to fill with tiny brushstrokes. Starting a small painting is the reverse: the small surface seems to small to give a good look into a whole landscape. The urge is to fill it with something small, like one bird or a far away view of a tree or building. It is hard to realise the small canvas is suitable for the same principles of composition as the large one.
50/40cm seems large enough
When the composition has been decided and while the painting progresses, something interesting happens: The canvas grows! The surface that at first seemed too small to even show a sparrow in some detail, turns into the window to a wide landscape. Obviously the small canvas has less room for small brushstrokes compared to the large one, but on a large canvas it is not common to use the same “resolution” anyway. We really shouldn’t be surprised by this growing canvas, because that’s really what happens when you print your holidaysnapshots on a fifteen centimeter wide paper. This size would be a miniature for a painting.
The average computer screen is smaller than most paintings and we are used to view large paintings as Da Vinci’s “last supper” on our laptops, while really it’s size is closer to the screen we see in a small cinema. This only shows how the human brain and cultural conditioning translates the elements of a picture of any size into a window into the artists world. It is even possible to make a large painting look small by using the appropriate elements. That is how we can accept a “budget print” landscape and a portrait of our beloved dictator spanning a stadium wall as a creditable rendition of reality.
I’d say the difference between a large painting or a small one only amounts to the difference between looking through a hole in the fence or over it.
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