Halfway Done With This Painting

Halfway Done With This Painting

I’m working on a painting today. An eighteen by twenty-four inch acrylic on canvas painting named “Stainless Sky”. I thought I’d stop working on it for a little while and write something about it because I don’t think I’ve written about one of my pieces mid-process. I’m not exactly sure what to write. It’s odd.

I’m having trouble writing about the painting because I’m having trouble making the painting. I’m not sure what I’m doing with it just yet. It’s an unusual one for me. It’s not what I’d call an abstract painting but there are no recognizable objects in it. I’d call it an unsubjected painting. There are shapes, swirls, and maybe some clouds in there but no real people and places. There are not even my usual unreal people and places. Weird.

Normally I plan my painting out first. It’s how I do things. I’m a methodical artist. Method is important to me. But this time I dove right in. Sure I had a sketch made but it was a simple sketch stripped of all the usual details of people and places that I put into such things. I liked the sketch but I wasn’t exactly sure what it was. I also usually work out the basic color scheme before I start painting. Often the color ends up changing by the end of the painting but with this one I’ve been picking the colors as I go along. That means a lot more stopping and looking. Things go slower.

I decided to make this painting that way because I haven’t made a painting in a while. I wanted to dive in and get going. For most of this year so far I’ve been working on small drawings. I’ve been working in ink, marker, and watercolor but not in acrylic. I have made some big drawings on paper but that’s not the same as a big painting. I bought two canvases this size a couple of months ago and they’ve been sitting there ever since. I finally said, “Let’s go” and started painting on one even if it wasn’t by my usual method. Sometimes it’s more important to get started rather than waiting for the perfect start. Even so it took me half a week to actually start painting. Since the drawing was so simple it took me only a short while to transfer it to the canvas but then it sat there for days. Pencil on canvas doing nothing. It took me a further half a week to finally lay some paint down. These things aren’t always easy.

It’s also not easy because I haven’t picked up my acrylics in three months and don’t know which colors I have and don’t have. Sure I have a general idea but paint runs out and I forget. Plus I buy tubes of paint but then mix them in little plastic cups that seal. The paint stays wet in the little cups but it dries out eventually. At this point I don’t know what I’m going to get when I open up one of the little cups. Today it’s mostly been paint that’s not quite dried out and not quite wet. I’ve added water to some cups and cleaned others out entirely. That adds a little more time to the process.

I started the painting by drawing over my pencil line with a purple painted line. I often start my acrylic paintings this way but today I didn’t even want a purple line. I knew I was going to get rid of it but since I didn’t know what my colors were yet I put it down anyway. At this point I just obliterated the last of the purple line by painting a magenta line over it. Well, there is still some trace of the purple but you have to be looking for it.

The three main colors on this painting are blue, orange, and yellow. Or at least they are as I write this. I put the blue on the top and bottom first. I wanted to evoke the sky and so far have evoked both the sky and the sea. Though the original blue was a light blue it was too dark. I dropped some white on top of that to make some cotton candy type clouds. Then I made the clouds purple line into a dark blue line. I’m still not sure how I want them to look but that’s true of the whole painting.

Next I dropped the orange in. With the two pink and magenta tower shapes in front the orange takes on the location of a sky by with blue and white clouds up above and below it the space gets confused. If the orange was the sky it should sit back in space but so far it move forward. I like this kind of color defining space but haven’t come to a conclusion of how things should be just yet. I’m not sure what the orange is.

The yellow between the orange in the blue is filled with swirls but they don’t look finished. There is something missing as of now. I decided on swirls for that are early on and I was going to go with a lighter yellow to make the swirls but decided that there wan’t enough contrast and went with the two shades of brown instead. I think I’m going to have to work some more color into those swirls. Maybe I can use that lighter shade of yellow now. We’ll have to see.

I just noticed the last trace of my purple line is around those two small green circles. I haven’t gotten back to those green circles yet. The last thing I did was work on those pink tower shapes. They starred out a little too dark so I wart in with a lighter shade of pink. It looks better but they still need some thinking about.

That’s what’s different about this painting than my usual ones. Everything still needs some thinking about. Usually I do most of my thinking in the preliminary stages and by this stage I’m reacting to stuff but not thinking about what is it I want to do. Putting a lot of the work on the back end can make it harder to finish but it sure helped me get things started. And that is what I was looking for.