|Cherry Blossom Robe #9|
12 x 10
The figure has had multiple faces, partial faces and layered colours as I've struggled to achieve the idea that's in my head: light, movement, and ambiguity. I've come to the conclusion that features are easy, blurs are very hard! And edges are everything. I needed an overall softness to every aspect of this in order for it to feel comfortable in my eyes. Hard edges froze the figure in place in a photographic way and consequently made the lack of features seem very wrong. But, when I softened the edges, the facial blur seemed fine.
Next I could selectively sharpen a few places. The crispness around the neckline, at the shoulder and in the hairline all served to give some substance to this unfocused image, as well as to move the eye in a path through the figure and up to the eye area.
Turning an image into its simplest parts - shapes of colour and tone - and eliminating all detail was not an easy thing, but it was particularly satisfying. It forced me to edit and restrain myself when it came to detail, remembering always that it's the gist, not the specifics that matter; and it made me think about every single mark. The moment I relied on muscle memory and experience, the painting took a wrong turn. I had to be completely present for every last decision. That may sound obvious, but I'd wager that most painters have moments when they're not entirely engaged: "just filling in the background" or making the usual marks that have always described hair or trees. By attempting something so foreign to my typical methods, I feel that I really stretched myself as a painter.