Untitled (Orange, Pink), egg tempera on calfskin parchment, 7 1/2 x 6 in.
Here is my second painting in my new series of still lives using pieces of wool left over from textile projects (you can see the first painting and an explanation of this new idea in this blog post). This image is a good deal simpler than the last, with just one folded form floating at the bottom of an orange field. It would seem that these works are quite easy to paint, very straightforward, but no. I have a tendency of wanting to slosh the paint around when I'm working with a large, flat area of color; what happens, though, when I do that is the paint builds up in a clunky manner, it attracts all manner of dirt and dust, and ends by looking awful. This is egg tempera, not oil paint, and the beauty of its color comes from translucent layering. I wiped off the first painting twice––each time after several hours of work––before the third attempt worked because I slowed down. This painting needed only one fresh start after the background color got away from me.
Untitled (Orange, Pink) detail
Sometimes it seems that I have to learn to paint anew every few months. When I began working in egg tempera, I used the classical technique of cross hatching; I abandoned that for a looser brush mark several years ago, but still find it useful at times. You can see some hatched marks in the light curve of the pink shape.
Kazimir Malevich drawings, from the book Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism.
When I began this series a couple of weeks ago, I took out my Malevich catalog and had it open on my work table for inspiration and support. The strength and depth of his simple compositions move me; although my paintings are almost baroque compared to his, I would like to aim for that clarity and emotion (with a tickle of humor from time to time).