At Work on “The War You Will Always Have With You”
For me, making a painting is a process of continual adjustments.
Define and revise big areas before focusing on details-the finer the detail, the later in the painting it will occur.
Start working on the background, moving towards the foreground. Go back and make changes to the background, working forward again, over and over. The idea is to keep moving the piece towards an overall level of consistent finish, layer by layer.
Creating a space
At first the lion was floating in a yellow void. That has very little resemblance to the vision in my mind. I needed an environment to enclose the animal. I think about Medieval art, and the fantastic Bestiaries they used to render. The influence appears in the painting.
One of my painting mantras is “It’s just a base coat!” I am open to covering every inch of the existing painting over with new colors and brushwork, obscuring what came before, if needed.
The trick is seeing along the way what passages work, preserving them, enhancing them. It’s an intuitive method. Recognize which mistakes to keep.
I preserve the integrity of the initial composition, unless I find I made a catastrophic drawing mistake. When that happened on some of my pieces in the past, I’ve flipped the canvas upside down and started the stage one drawing all over.
I went back in with white and loosely defined some areas, working fast and brushy. Some will indeed wind up being white. In other places, the white is a base coat for glazes: transparent layers of color laid over the white will create quite a glow, one of my ongoing painting fascinations.
This is still the early phases of this image. I anticipate I will be working on it for several more months. Additional progress reports to come.
Painting is the medium of self-discovery. It engages the person fully with a process of action, emotion, thought and vision, revealing all of these with intimate and unforgiving breadth and detail.