Sunday, March 16, 2014

Art: Waiting.

Waiting (Oil on illustration board, 15x20").  Available until 4/1 at Chicano Art Gallery in San Diego.

A few close-ups:

This was my second entry in the No Place Like Home group art show.  Its creation was due to a timely series of encounters.

First, I caught the Richard Diebenkorn exhibit at the Palm Springs Art Museum. I'm not particularly fond of abstract art.  To me, it exclaims, "I Can't Draw!"  But I found myself riveted by Diebenkorn's work. I understood that despite his abstraction, there's a draftsman at work. He knows how to draw.  His choices are actual choices, and not due to a lack of technical proficiency.  I became enamored with his layering of paint, heavy texture, and how he chose to render objects. My favorite piece was Knife In a Glass.  I stood in front of it for fifteen minutes and returned to it often while wandering through the exhibit.

Richard Diebenkorn. Knife in a Glass. 1963.

In many of his paintings, he toned the canvas with a solid color -- often red.  That background became an essential part of the painting because it peeked through the subsequent layers and provided a counterpoint. I loved his brushstrokes and how he let the blue undertone filter into this painting, creating harmony with the color of the knife.  While not true, the knife's handle felt like it was rendered in two brushstrokes.  The hilt of the knife was composed of a thick dark gob of paint that arose from the canvas. The highlights on the glass were pure white paint draped on top.  The application of paint on this painting was incredible.  It created interest.  I studied it closely, and every time I returned I noticed something new.

A week later, my wife and I walked through the San Diego flea market, and I caught this birdhouse sitting in the middle of random ephemera.

I felt enamored with its shape and how the light struck its surface to create dramatic shadows.  While at the flea market, I bought a birdhouse for five dollars.

I brought the birdhouse home and wondered where it would hang.  What location would make it attractive and safe for birds?  Would a bird ever find sanctuary there?  Once I hung the birdhouse, it would just sit there waiting.

As for process....

I applied four layers of gesso to the illustration board.  I prefer using illustration board over other surfaces.  It is light and thin which makes it easy to store.  The surface is smooth and I can adjust the texture by varying my gesso application.  It absorbs paint at a rate that works well for me.

I sketched the general outline of the birdhouse in pencil and then toned the entire board with Gamblin's cadmium red light, knowing that parts of the red would poke through the canvas.  The red was transparent enough that I could still see my drawing.  Using a palette knife, I loosely began covering the entire board with paint, feeling my way around, pulling and dragging and scraping and changing angles.  I applied thick dabs of paint to create peaks, much like I observed on Diebenkorn's paintings.  I used a brush only where appropriate.

I reveled in the looseness, spawned by a synergy of events.

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