Summer is here in full force this week, it is sultry,steamy, and 96 degrees. The river is vaporizing and very low with growing muddy banks on both sides. Small sandy beaches are beginning to show up in their usual summer fashion. Since January, the outside world has once again become a familiar start and finish to every day. I adopted my dog Pixie late in January, and the journeys began to unfold with our daily walks. We walk the river side on our journey to my second studio on most days and it is fascinating to watch the daily transitions of the river with every walk. Life is full of change and transition. Some good and some bad but all bring growth.
I wanted to share what happens when deadlines are not looming and there is time to play in the paint. Call it artist’s ADHD or whatever you will ,but when I am working on a painting, my mind is constantly remembering other paintings or planning new paintings for the future. There are times when this cacophony of thoughts will cloud the current progress and cause me to overthink the process. This is the biggest daily struggle for me in my art, to maintain focus on what is at hand; and squelch the other thoughts. For quite sometime I have had the desire to move my figures in a different direction without the echos of the suggestions of others and completely removing the idea of making any sales and just let the paint and my intuition lead me where it wants to go. This is a gift, I give myself when I am caught up with all of my obligations, and feel the need to grow in in my art process, to unfurl my wings and see where it takes me. Here is an example that I am finishing up in the studio. It has gone through so many layers of change and I have distilled it into a few jpegs for this blog. Most changes in this work are minor and happen with a stroke of the brush and seem almost incidental but, there are some that have to be pondered, struggled with and one of these I thought I would discuss in this blog. I hope it will help anyone that struggles with their work in this manner.
The first idea….50 x 48 panel
As it progresses the work becomes less about the initial thoughts and more about being built with solidity of thought and paint. The thin layout of the above becomes obscured and submerged under textural layers of paint. I am not married to the initial layout nor anything that will happen in between. Once the painting begins, the emphasis is now on how to work each days work into the next. Every layer brings something good; but also leaves something wanting or needing more. I am answering questions that I have created by mark making and layers laced with hours of thought. This is where the growth comes in, I learn so many new things about the painting process by giving myself scenarios that have to be integrated into the whole painting. I am in a sense, wrestling with my own self, and it is as much satisfying as it is revealing to where I am heading in my work. Most importantly no one is telling me how, what they want, what will sell, what is currently popular, what I need to do etc..I am on my own.
Texture is always something that I am constantly trying to achieve. I try to do this in layers of thick and thin paints and topping it all off with glazes of pure pigments that are wiped and sanded until they have the feeling of something inexplicable to me,yet interesting. A time tapestry woven of layers and remnants of layers. It is a physical process that is fascinating to paint, as it almost never repeats itself, even when I use the exact same pigments. I love this about painting…the unexpected is a large portion of my muse.
After many layers the figures re emerge, smaller than originally planned. I want them to be integrated and part of the environment in which they exist..they are formed by the environment and the environment is formed by them.
At some point,I put in this strange green line form and connected the figure shapes to the left side. I thought this was so unexpected against the red on the figure shapes and such a fabulous addition to the painting, I fell in love with this connection. It remained through many more layers. I found myself painting around it carefully keeping it in the painting as if the loss of it would completely destroy the painting.
I add more shapes to the painting. I want to keep graphic shapes that are the total opposite of the texture and edges of the dark shapes. I love having juxtapositions in my work. I do not like the gold circular shapes I have added, they are a bit too overwhelming yet I want circles in the work. In a previous layer which I did not photograph they were simple black outlined circles which also did not work well in this particular painting. Rather than working on them I added the blue boat shape to the painting. My thought was this would balance out the gold orbs…however I still felt I wanted them subdued.
Figures with a Boat 50 x 48 acrylic on board by Cathy Hegman
This is where the painting is today and I think it feels complete to me. I added square halos to the figures to give a new almost cryptic meaning to the boat( there is a book called Square Halos that I read and loved years ago)and also to echo the color of the gold spheres. I have integrated the gold spheres in with layers of translucent paint completely losing some edges of the spheres. I still want them in the painting to give me a balancing element. You will note, I also obliterated and left only skeletal remains of that weird green connection that I had created such a strong love affair with in previous layers. Often and almost always I find if I love something in the beginning stages ,I have to lose it in the end to make the painting work. What I found so interesting in the beginning with that line, became a in the end a chain on me forcing me to constantly save it; when in the end it was destined to be lost. Yet another lesson learned the hard way.
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