|D in the studio (in progress)|
40 x 30
Alex Kanevsky is a case in point with his many iterations on the same canvas (have a look at his "progress sequences" on his website to see his willingness to address a single painting over and over until it becomes a rich, multi-layered presence). Other painters that I admire for the way they develop a piece are John Murray, Martin Campos, Scott Smith, Ann Gale, and many other social media connections that I look at on a daily basis. They are painters (though Smith is mostly posting complicated, constantly revised and in-progress drawings lately) who revel in the act of painting and for whom a final mark seems almost a secondary aim. They appear to love the process.
Or maybe I'm projecting my own feelings onto these artists. I don't know them in person, but I admire their courage in pushing a work beyond the first, simple layers. It resonates with what I am enjoying more often in the studio.
The painting above is in its infancy. I honestly don't know when or how it will be finished, and that's no longer the worry for me that it used to be. The process is endlessly engaging. The model is a friend of my son's who has stilled her active body to sit for me. She's been in for 3 sessions so far, and I've been working at a leisurely pace, with much time spent thinking, looking, and revisiting areas. After she left yesterday, I photographed the painting, and then scraped a lot of the body and background down so that I can continue to alter it. I'm using a very coarse linen that takes a lot of abuse, and that requires a lot of paint on its surface before the colour and consistency look rich.
You can see from this picture, that the first layer was just a way to place her figure on the canvas and establish a sense of the colour space. I figured out basic skin colours and temperatures and noticed the essentials of her clothing and surrounding colours. The face was a simple separation of shadow and light, full of hard edges and showing no dimension.
I didn't photograph the second sitting, but the third shows how much the face has altered as I scraped, layered and revised it. (It's not this warm in person, but there was a lot of sun yesterday and I couldn't avoid it in the photography.)
There's much to do in the weeks and - maybe - months ahead, both with and without the model present. At this point, I feel I'll be braver with her out of my sight. I can alter the work more substantially if the reality of the model, the couch, and the white curtain are not always in my view. Maybe I'll get in the studio and give it another scraping because I think I was too timid yesterday, trying to save too much that actually needs to be sacrificed. And that's ok. It's all part of the process toward achieving something that pleases my eyes - as they are at this moment.