February has been a month of many surprises with the weather and the river. The Sunflower River has eaten her share of my bank and yard. I feel no ill toward the river, she gives me the best possible view of a river bend and in turn I feed her soil and riff raff that we have placed on the steep bank to hold what we feel is rightfully ours. This is natural progression at it’s finest. Progress continues in my studio, it is untidy but it is mine and I function at top speed when it looks the most unkempt. I feed on the disconnect from order, it frees my mind to rove and fetch thoughts that might be sterilized and lost if forced into an orderly retrieval sequence instead of allowed to bubble and flow out on its own accord.
In this painting I began the process with the three figures, I always love the beginning stages when there is no worry about details, this is when I feel the closest to the painting, it is a moment of connection to the paint and canvas. I began to fill in the background in rich reds and oranges but almost immediately I felt that I missed the white of the canvas too much and the feeling became heavy so I added texture to the painting by mixing up about half and half Golden High Solid Gel and white Gesso. I applied it with a palette knife first and then then brushed over it with a squeegee giving it a smooth surface. I next brushed into it with a cheap ,old, stiff bristle brush. This gave me a texture that in turn gave me the movement I wanted for the painting. I immediately began to feel the uplift that the white mixture has given the painting. It is layered over the reds and oranges and bits of the previous layer are peeking through and it feels right. The next step was to dry (overnight)and then I began the layering of paint to build the depth of the colors in the painting. I lost count at layer 17, so I have no idea how many were applied to this piece but with each layer, I found something more to say and new ways to achieve it. I am building a bit of history with the piece one layer at a time. I will long after it is finished and gone remember moments from it’s creation and feel accomplishment. The important part of layering to me is the wait time between the layers, this is the time I sit back and just think about the painting, and the more layers the more thinking that is done and the better I feel my work is becoming in my mind.
I am growing older and slower and more methodical in my ways and the layering that I did in rapid succession earlier on my art journey is now much more thoughtful and deliberate but there is method in my madness and I am learning that slow can be a fast way of discovering more about my art.
Finding a good place to end the process is often the hard part of painting. I placed the painting on an easel away from my work area and looked at it for a week or more before I added several strokes and called it finished.
Cathy Hegman AWS,NWS,MSWS,MOWS, SAA,SW, ISAP