32 x 26
Robert Genn's recent letter about the importance and fun of artistic play really struck home. Sometimes it's easy to get too serious in the studio and I find myself editing as I paint. Instead of exploring and trying to find new ways to use the paint to express myself, I do the same sort of subject that I've done before, thinking ahead to its placement in one of my galleries. Consistency of work does matter to galleries.
Luckily, I catch myself now and then and allow myself to just play and try new things. "Weeping Birch" comes out of this spirit. I wanted to paint a portrait of the tree in my front yard, making it as multi layered and majestic as the tree itself. Instead of working wet-in-wet as I normally do, however, I made drippy, spattered, warm layer of abstract colour over the entire canvas and let it thoroughly dry. Then I went over it and painted the tree, making sure that plenty of the underpainting was untouched in the final painting. The white, papery trunk of the birch allowed lots of scope for playing with bright, light colours and, by using more medium than usual, I could create textures that didn't immediately look like brushwork. This was a refreshing change in the surface of my work.
I enjoyed this method of working and am going to do more of these. The only thing that bothers me is waiting for the underpainting to dry. Still, if I get several paintings underway at once, I should be able to overcome my impatience.
Next, I think, I'll do a figure using this approach, and I'll do more work in designing the underpainting. This play has, I hope, launched a series.