Monday, February 6, 2012

new year, new ideas

Being a full time painter, its easy to find myself in a rut with imagery, technique, ever-thing. Its a huge blessing that people think enough of what Genna and I do to want to give us money for it, but it's also the tiniest of curses as it keeps me partially confined to the style that we've come to be recognized for.

What I think is great about this 'problem' is that it's allowed (forced) me to sink very deeply into my technique and work it out to a level of consistency and fluidity that I would never have achieved if I could jump from media to media and method to method whenever I felt the urge.

Instead, I achieve change glacially...more fine tuning than broad strokes. Lately, though, there's something brewing. My process for ages has been painting largely in the negative shapes. So, instead of painting trees, I would paint the sky around it, allowing the underpainting layer to stand in for the tree form. Faces are often defined by cutting in the background form to it's edge. So, a few weeks ago I began this piece:

Like this:

Instead of painting the sky shape, I painted the trees. This doesn't seem like a huge deal, but to me it looks and feels totally different...kind of like writing with my left hand. The bottom half of the piece was completed with my usual technique, but the top remained entirely a positive painting with the underpainting representing the sky without any tinkering on my part.

Then I took that idea even a little farther and made this:

The underpainting stands entirely pristine as the sky.

And again here:

Then last week I took the plunge and advanced this idea even further. In this image, I painted only the figures and let Genna's underpainting serve as both the sky and the ground.

While this is an image I've worked with before, this feels like a completely new idea to me. One thing I really like about this piece is that while the figures are all painted in the positive, the negative painting technique still exists within each figure. Like with the ties of this girl's bonnet and the detailing of her ruff:

I have plans for a whole new series based on this concept but have typed enough for now and can't imagine anyone read this far. I'll show it to you once it happens!