Wednesday, December 7, 2011

T-bow's Barn

How to paint. To compose a picture. To lay paint on canvas....... or panel.

My approach has evolved at a pace similar to a Galapagos tortoise. But I arrived where I am by studying other painters, and trial and error. I really do think you learn from failure, rather than success, telling people all the time what I believe to be the secret of painting: 500 bad paintings.

Well, you have to be paying attention. 500 without a vocabulary of self criticism would be 500 down the drain. After a few thousand paintings I still feel like I learn something everyday. Failure. Facing it, then recovering.

I started out to be a watercolorist. Winslow Homer's Blue Boat is still one of my favorite paintings, and I love the watercolors of Thomas Aquinas Daly. But off I wandered. I still paint in watercolor, but there was an itch to keep exploring, following a thread. My teacher and mentor Richard Beale suggested pastels as a transition to oil.

I worked in pastel for several years, first as an illustrator, then as a painter. But there was that thread, leading....... somewhere. Larger was the impetus. I wanted to work on a larger scale, and oil seemed like the logical answer. Either oil or acrylic, and I'd used acrylic as an underpainting for my pastels, and knew it wasn't for me.

So I picked up oil, and ended up thinking, What have I been doing? I'm an oil painter.

This all happened over about 20 years. Tortoise like, me.

So what's all this got to do with T-bows barn? Well, I know how I paint and why. The result of all the mistakes. Years of watercolor, and then pastel, have brought me to approaching painting in a way that feels natural to me, like I am laying down uneven, broken veils of color, one over another, till the painting seems finished. A conversation, laying paint dawn, pulling some of it off. Talking in paint, in color, in tone. Usually.

Not this time, T-bow's Barn. Not him. This guy, Wayne Thiebaud. A painter who's work I love, but who I have never emulated, or even thought to emulate.

Where did this come from? Well, the shape is reminiscent of Thiebaud's cakes, and that may have been a subconscious push. Paint like frosting. Where does this thread lead? Anywhere? Maybe its just a short thread. One painting. Who knows. It was very fun and satisfying to paint.