Sunday, April 5, 2009

Reworking A Piece

As we live with a piece over time, we get to see the good and bad within it. Commonly, I don't go back into a piece of art, especially one that has been around my studio for a couple years. I did so recently with a large 24" x 36" painting. I always liked the piece, but couldn't initially quite put my hand on what bothered me about it. So I showed it once or twice at most, but mostly it hung on the wall in my home. My wife said she liked it, but every time I looked it over, it just wasn't what I wanted out of it. Time and thought clarified the problems. I realized overall it didn't look unified, so I went back into it. Here's my reasoning and what I did to create a stronger painting.

• The sky (A) needed to be more unified with the painting. As it was, the clouds cut the painting too drastically and didn't repeat shapes used throughout the piece. Also, the blue of the sky was too uniform in color (ultramarine blue+white) and needed more variation.

• The focal area (B) needed to be more dramatically accentuated. I did this by using more intense colors in the focal area and adding some more detail.

• After painting B, I quickly realized I needed to create some more unity and balance in the trees to the right of the focal area (C). To do so, I added some more detail into those trees and created more interesting shapes within the shadow and light areas, as well as where the trees meet the sky.

• Finally, the trees on the left (D) needed to be addressed. They were far too uniform in shape and color. The other thing I noticed was that the background led straight to the sky, creating an unrealistic visible distance. I decided I wanted the background to be led around the group of trees to the left, not continually go farther and farther in the distance. I reworked these concerns at the same time.

Here is the final painting and the two side by side. Unfortunately you can see I'm getting a little light spilling into the top of the reworked painting. You can click on them for a larger viewing size.

Slowing Summer 24" x 36"

Sometimes I wish I could get to that stage a lot faster, but art doesn't always allow that to happen. Sometimes living with a piece is of great importance. On Scott Christensen's website he has a quote from Ernest Hemingway. I think it does a decent job of summing up what it actually takes to create a piece of art work that we, as artists, can be proud of and let out of the studio.

Excerpt from "Ernest Hemingway On Writing."
"Would like to finish this [A Farewell to Arms] down here if possible, put it away for a couple or three months and then re-write it. The re-writing doesn't take more than six weeks or two months once it is done. But it is pretty important for me to let it "cool off" well before re-writing.
~to Maxwell Perkins, 1928 Selected Letters~