Sunday, January 4, 2015

Winter still life

     Every Winter we pull some of our plants inside, the ones that are in containers, where we can shelter them from the colder weather. The larger ones usually make their way into my studio, because of the free space and the natural light. Over the past few years, I usually paint or draw them here, and about a month ago I started this painting. A lot of these plants we've had for a long time, where they pop up in different paintings over the years (I recently found an old drawing with the rubber plant in it from 2003) There's something about the idea of a container that I'm attracted to, or maybe it's a vessel...how something 'boundless-ness' can be 'contained'. I like tracking the growth of these plants through paint.
     I painted over this painting turned on it's side from a few years ago, which I was never able to resolve (the symmetry and the space never 'clicked', and the paint application got too 'finicky'):

25" x 22"
     Before I jumped into the painting, I started by sketching out a few different compositions:

     I settled on the symmetrical composition again, probably unconsciously leaning this way from the previous painting that I was covering over. I don't usually like working over other paintings, but it does happen from time to time. The painting underneath had probably been drying for about 2 years, so I took a razor blade to it and tried to level off as many ridges of paint as I could.
     My first layer is usually applied with a palate knife, but in this case, it felt like I was plastering over an old wall. I've been specifically trying to work more broadly in the beginning, and using large brushes, or in this case, a palette knife, forces me to focus on the big shapes and how they relate to the rectangle. (basically, the Charles Hawthore color-spot approach). From there, I can progressively hone in and articulate the spaces between the big shapes, which is what happens in this sequence:

   I've taken a break from this one over the holidays, but it's nice to have a painting to work on at all times. I've enjoyed exploring the patterns on the rug with paint and how they relate to the shapes of the leaves. The bright cobalt rectangle serves the practical function of keeping any water and dirt off the rug, but within the painting it functions as a compliment to the orange of the wood and breaks up the receding floor plane. I'll probably continue to fiddle around with it until the plants go back outside in the Spring...