August 24, 2009

Work in Progress 7

Today was one of those days, when I think I've finished my painting; then, after a break, and after hanging the painting on the wall (to get a different perspective on it from the easel), I realized that no, it sure wasn't done. It looked terrible to me.

Here I have to say something about the difference between seeing an actual painting and looking at a jpeg online; because the painting looks just fine here, you are probably thinking I'm too finicky etc. Looking at the real physical painting provides a more visceral experience; you can relate more to a human-made mark, to the presence of the paint. These marks get evened out in the photo process, and further flattened online. Online we see image, not paint; light, not paint.

I had worked a lot on the lower part of the yellow form, glazing darker yellows––some greenish or reddish or blueish––over a lighter tone. I put several layers down till I got the color and brushwork that looked effective in describing the form and light. When putting a darker color over a lighter one, which is glazing, the brushmarks are more evident, and can get jangly looking. When I worked with cross hatching in the past, the deliberate nature of the mark making made glazing with thin layers of color easier. Even though it seems harder, cross hatching in its predictability is more straightforward.

It was very helpful for me to hang the painting on the wall, because then I saw that it didn't have the quality of light that it needed, and the overall value was much too dark.

So I went at it with a lighter value. You can see above where the lighter yellow color has been scumbled (which simply means putting a light value over a darker one) on the painting. Scumbling evens out the tones, which is what I think I need here because I wasn't happy with the brushmarks. I hope to finish doing this tomorrow, but there are always surprises in the studio.


  1. Another great post. I like what you said about the difference between seeing a painting of paint, rather than an image of light. This has troubled me also. Sometimes when jurying a show with digital images, I feel cheated when I see the true work which is lack luster compared to the image and the size seems small compared to what I had imagined. So easy to upgrade a photo of a painting giving it more contrast or even adapting the color to visual sensitivity.

  2. Altoon, I notice the opposite sometimes too, where if I directly scan my art, the brushstrokes get too exaggerated and I am less pleased with a scan than with the original art, so I think it can happen both ways about the nuances between the original and digital versions. I try to be philosophical that it's a mode of communicating images which I live with and must adapt myself to in the digital age.