August 24, 2012

A New Painting: "Blue Bar"

Blue Bar, egg tempera on calfskin parchment, 6 1/2 x 7 1/2 in.


Sometimes a painting just isn't working; it could be because of the color, the light, the form, the composition, or my inability to achieve what I'd envisioned. My choice is either to toss the painting––wipe it off and use the panel for another work––or keep trying to fix it. Blue Bar was one of these problem pictures: I really liked the composition, with the three circles, one large two small, and the big rectangular shape moving across the surface, a slightly curved shape, angled at bottom, a departure from regular geometry. But that shape was originally a red rust color, and I couldn't make it harmonious with the pinkish red of the background. Because I liked the composition, I decided to keep trying by changing the color of the bar; I thought a blue might work. At first the color was much too intense and I considered repainting the red to match, but instead I made the blue less saturated. Uncertainty comes with this process; I'm still not sure whether the painting works or not. What do you think?


Blue Bar detail


Another thing I changed was the color of the black circle, which was originally a much warmer black, with touches of burnt sienna. I cooled the color so that it would work with the blue bar.




When I'm uncertain about a painting, I like to look at it in the studio, alongside other works. Blue Bar seems comfortable in this company (I think).

This is the first time I've done this on the blog, but here goes: here's an image below without the screw on the left which was suggested by a commenter on facebook. And I think I like it better this way, (except that without that left screw, the black circle really should move over a little to the left). The painting becomes more simple and assertive. I'll think about it for a couple of days and maybe change it, much more difficult in paint than in photoshop.




14 comments:

  1. I think it is amazing. Let me get my screwdriver and loosen those screws if they are what are bothering you. ;)

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    1. thanks, Lisa. And about those screws.....

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  2. I wish this was private, Altoon but alas it is not. Nonetheless, I don't feel it's the colour that's causing questioning - for me, & me alone I think it's do with speed. The bolt-head + grey circle are frontal & the blur bar has a left/right shift. If I was obliged to adlust I'd leave a greater breathing space between bar and the circular elements so that the bar shadow is pushing in from bottom edge of the canvas and I'd slow the rise of the bar a little; push the bar screw-head a little down and to the right and darken up the bottom third of the shadow of that screwhead. Bloody hell _ I'm an idiot for saying such things but my mouth has always bigger than my brain. Luv, T.

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    1. wow, Tony, I sure wish you could pop in for a studio visit. I hadn't even thought of moving that bar down so that there would be more space between it and the circles above. If I'd had the bar shadow start at the lower left corner the energy would be better. That black screw is now centered but it might have been better lower, to anchor the bar.
      anyway....I'm not going to work on the painting anymore; I've had enough and want to move on. But this tells me I should be more open to changes as I work.

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  3. This is a pretty brilliant little painting. Good that you put it in the context of your other works. If I were to be picky at all - and since you are asking - I feels to me that the space between larger circular element and the blue bar is a little tight and the "flow", the way the eyes move around in the picture, could benefit from a larger opening... but then, that squeeze also slows down the visual path! Hm... ah, I'd just leave it.

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    1. Thanks, Anders. Yes, so many options to change things, and I added one without the left screw. Maybe as you write, I should just leave it.

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  4. It's your call, of course. But looking at the two, with and without the left screw, I prefer "with." I like the way the left screw calls over to the right screw, and on the whole the piece seems wittier with it. Without the screw it has a more somber demeanor, to me. Also, on a quick viewing, the space between the large circle and the horizontal bar is more problematic without the screw than with it, to my eye.
    I guess I'm with you on your latest assertion that you might just leave it and move on to the next image, or work a variation of this one.

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    1. Thanks for your take on this, Ravenna. Your point is well taken; without the screw the painting is definitely more serious. I'll most likely leave it the way it is.

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  5. The full painting at the top is optically fascinating. There is an optical illusion going on -- caused by the blue objects. The shade of the blue disk makes it recede from the foreground, but its slightly forward-tilting appearance makes it come forward. At the same time, the bright bar seems to be really in the foreground but, being wider at the left, seems also to be heading into the background on the right and away from the viewer.

    Both objects have this quality of coming forward and receding at the same time. For me anyway, this creates a lot of visual excitement.

    As to the top screw. It absolutely belongs there. I couldn't begin to say why, but it does.

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    1. Thanks, Clair, for your thoughtful comment. Since I know the original of the image, I have less of an experience of the strange spacial illusions, but I'm happy they are there. And thanks for the vote on the screw. I got two emails this morning voting against the screw, and here are two in favor, so I guess I'll leave it be.

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  6. Much here to weight in on: that's the best part. My responses to your questions vary according to the context: seen alone in detail or from a distance in group very different viewing experience, especially in terms of perspective.

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  7. My first impression of this painting when I saw it was that I loved it. I think the discussion about the composition is great and I love your willingness lay your thoughts out and accept a critique. In my opinion, I like the screw left in. I think it is interesting to look at and I like the interplay of the two small circles. I also think it makes the close proximity of the blue bar to the two circles above it less noticeable. Well done.

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  8. Geez.....so many options and opinions-I wonder about adding one more....I think many of ideas expressed would work but whether they would actually improve the work I am not sure. For me the only issue is that screw on the left and even with it, it still a very interesting work.

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  9. Thanks for commenting, Julie, Kimberly and Anonymous. I appreciate that you all took a look and took the time to let me know your thinking.

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