Finding a painting's path
|Bread and Tea|
18 x 24
At first, it was about broad, bold treatment, and the objects were much looser, but, gradually, it became a painting about light and colour. The brushwork became distracting and I reigned it in, finding more edges and defining the complex arrangement more overtly.
Originally, it was also much more a painting about mid tones, but I found it didn't feel as light and airy as I wanted until I broadened its tonal range to include some serious darks. They anchored the subject, and allowed the many mid and high key elements to feel even more luminous. This approach doesn't always work. Sometimes adding those darks makes the piece feel weighted down and lifeless, but, in this case, it was a happy addition.
There were a lot of other changes (finding that green thread to weave through the shadows was a nice moment), but, for me, the important thing was to stick with it until I could discover what those changes should be. I'm often tempted to call a painting done and let it leave the studio, but that closes off a lot of potential for a richer, more interesting image. So I'm practising patience, letting each work sit on the shelf for long periods, and repeatedly reworking until I feel I've said what I want to say with it, and can't see anything else that needs changing. It's slower painting, but it's satisfying.