Evolution of a Painting

When a painting is completed I stand back and analyze it.   When observing, I begin to see flaws.   My mind starts a conversation: “Add another line; Change the colour;  Take the white and block out that section;  This is a crappy painting and not working, etc.”  Impulsively,  I take my brush and change a line, add another color, block out a specific section with white and then the finished work begins to shift and change – sometimes drastically.  The original painting which I thought was finished starts anew and I rework it until I think the second version is finished.  At this point the original intent of the painting usually gets buried in the revisions.   When getting into this state of going against the flow from my original intent, the painting usually torments me.   At this point I should throw it in the garbage but another voice tells me to continue because the painting could become successful.   In this post I share the evolution of a painting.  

Before I left my summer studio I took photos of tree barks and rock formations.  I wanted to shift from the lake, sky and trees as my backgrounds, to painting rocky crevices and bark-like formations that integrate the woven structures within their openings.   I drew an abstracted rock formation on my iPad in Procreate.   This study became my muse. 

The image of a rock formation that I drew in Procreate

I began the painting by adding plaster strips onto the canvas and then painted natural earthy tones onto the plaster surface after it had dried.  

Adding the plaster strips and the foundation colors. 

Then, I blocked in the holes and painted the gauze-like painted weaving in the background.  My goal was to weave the black lines within the fissures.  I wanted the audience to get a brief glimpse of the surrounding areas between the solid masses of rocks.       

Painting the open areas with the woven structure.  

After I blocked in the holes  and background colors, I decided it needed a light source going across the middle of the canvas.  

After the white was added, I saw the paint was too thickly applied, the white popping out too much, and the surface texture was not transparent so I calmed down the white.  I also removed some of the crevices.

Was I finished? I  did not like the white around the top middle area.  
My first finished version.  I liked the surface treatment and the copper woven lines.

I should have left the finished version alone and started another one.  At first I liked the painting and thought it was done but, after looking at it for a while, I started to have doubts.  The surface felt too flat, had no dimension and the woven area appeared not integrated.  Also, there was no spatial relationship between the solid mass and the background.  I liked the idea of a rocky crevice like surface but needed to expand that idea.    

Painted the surface again. 

The painting went through another revision.  The surface was painted again and I added black and brown diagonal lines because I felt the composition needed foreground elements.    I also took away some of the openings and added others.  What a mess at this point. 

Adding the tree branches across the surface to give it some movement and a foreground, middle ground and background.

 I felt the second version had more movement but it was too busy.  My eyes moved all over the place and the painting had no focus.  This painting just bothered me so I painted over it.   

Finished Painting #2

When I feel frustrated, I take white or black paint and squeeze it right onto the surface and then take a brush and paint the whole surface with white or black.  For my painting, I squeezed white paint right from the tube and included browns and blues.

Painted the surface again.  

 I continued defining the rock surfaces so that they had dimensionality, and blocked in the crevices.  The original intent was coming out from the painting.  Black woven lines were placed between the crevices.    This  version  I knew was finished.  It had a natural rocky surface treatment, the lines felt integrated.  I did not see anything that I wanted to fix.  It felt complete.  Now I just have to come up with a title.   

Final Painting:  Acrylic and Plaster on Canvas, 30″ X 30″




Author: Anna

I am a painter and sculptor and have a studio beside a beautiful lake. For the past 40 years, I designed and built puppets, masks and sculptures and had solo exhibitions of these works. In 2013, I went back to painting and started working in encaustic. I am interested in issues of identity in terms of weavings as coverings to protect or to hide. The intersecting lines that I create over landscapes create an internal conversation versus the external between nature vs. nurture. Or how actual or psychological barriers erected in an environment can disrupt a cherished place. My engagement with woven structures speak to complex dialogues between identity and psychological barriers. My second passion is teaching. I try to encompass more than teaching my students art techniques. I encourage students to, not only learn the language of art, but to also engage in critiquing art. Additionally, we continually explore ways to enhance one's voice through art in relation to contemporary and historical issues. Encaustic adventures is a blog where not only processes and techniques are taught, but hopefully this sites will engage in a dialogue about the making of art, notions of voice, identity, themes, and ways to establish a body of work within an historical contexts.

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