August 31, 2009

Some Rejected Studies


Two Circles

White Towers

To continue the theme of failure, here are three studies that I felt didn't work well enough to become paintings, though each in a different way. While working on the untitled sketch, I realized half-way through that it was bad: too many elements, with too many colors, an incoherent composition, and dull contrasts. I finished it, but didn't even save the photographic studies––hence the untitled––because I knew right away that it was a reject.

I had a long narrow panel in the studio, 20 x 44 inches, that I ordered for another study that I found I didn't like several months after doing it. Two Circles was done for that panel. I was very excited when I first saw the motif: a new machine on a large dairy farm nearby. The strong red and black looked terrific. But later I felt that it was a more complicated design than I wanted. As in the case of Cord and White Circles in a previous post, though the image was quite interesting, it wasn't where I was heading with my work. The study I came up with for that panel is called Archimedes, and is shown in the post "The Long Rectangle: Painting Studies". It seems clear enough in its repeated rhythms to get at the real.

White Towers has yet another story. I felt from the beginning that this image was a bit too metaphoric or misleading, too much leaning towards an architectural interpretation, as though we were looking at houses on a Grecian island instead of plastic. This bothered me, but I went ahead and started the painting, and here I'm going to admit to crass commercial motivations: paintings of mine that are white, yellow or blue tend to sell. Extremely annoying but true. But then my connection with my NY gallery was severed; I didn't need to please them, and I felt free. My first act of liberation was to wipe off the White Towers panels, going back to the blank white of the gesso ground.


  1. The top one is so cubist, I love the diagonals.
    I'd put these in the category of prospects that didn't make it through the final casting call, rather than failures.
    They seem to be part of the process of art - getting your feet (brushes) wet, testing the waters before plunging in.

  2. Yes rappel, you are correct in clarifying my nomenclature. I expect that a certain number of studies will not make the cut. It's part of the thinking process as I work through image making.