Sunday, April 19, 2009

Seeing the Start

Work in Progress
30 x 70 triptych


Something happened yesterday in the studio that was, I think, a completely new experience for me. I've been thinking about painting some large pieces lately and buoyed by the imminent completion of The Constable Closet, I decided to start a 30 x 70 triptych this weekend. I filled up pages of my sketchbook with thumbnails and completed two underpaintings of pieces with a similar motif. I could see in my mind's eye what color harmony and effect I wanted and a general idea of the motif, but I still hadn't worked out the composition. I tend to work in squarer formats so composing this elongated horizontal was giving me fits. Plus, composing a triptych is arguably three times as challenging because each panel must stand on its own as well as support the whole.

So, when I went to the studio yesterday to start it, I still hadn't really settled on a composition. I thought I'd sketch some more and try to resolve it. I walked in and put the three panels up on my easel and moved the other two pieces I had already laid in to my work table. I looked at them, then looked at the panels and well, I "saw" the composition on the panels all laid out. I didn't think, I didn't conjure it up, I just saw it. It only lasted a few seconds, but I saw it.

I was taught to "see" the final work in my mind's eye and this is what I also encourage my students to do. But that exercise, at least to me, is more about the translation of the subject into paint-understanding what you want your finished painting to look like before you start- seeing the finish. This experience was more about process- more about "seeing the start". And I didn't "see" it in my mind's eye, I saw it on the panels. Or, maybe I just had one too many Diet Cokes.

10 comments:

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Looks reaqlly good to me.

I know what you mean about the mind's eye. It's great when you suddenly 'see it'.

Jala Pfaff said...

Super cool!
Wonder what would happen if you tossed down a few triple espressos?!

Robin Maria Pedrero said...

Oh what a wonderful experience to savor and propel your work!

Holly Friesen said...

absolutely gorgeous! I find this underpainting stage the most exciting to see but also where some of the hardest work gets done! Bravo!

Pam Holnback said...

Love hearing this. Can't wait to see more of the "progress" of this piece(s).

Justin Holdren said...

This is a masterpiece. Great work Deborah.

Deborah Paris said...

Thanks Katherine and thanks for visiting!

That's a good question, Jala- maybe I should try that!

Thanks Robin!

I like this stage too Holly. In fact, sometimes I can get too attached to the underpainting.

Thanks Pam- this one will take some time for sure!

Thank you Justin and thanks for the mention on your blog!

Mary Bullock said...

Wow! I just ran across you blog and I LOVE your work!
Coincidently, I am just starting a similar oblong shaped canvas too (although not quite so large). I admire your courage to undertake such large canvases.
I will certainly be checking back often. Thanks!
Mary

Cheryl Anderson said...

I know what you mean about getting too attached to the underpainting--I do that, too. I've been thinking about working on some triptychs, so thanks for posting this. It's a beautiful start, Debra, but I'm sure it will be an even more beautiful painting. I hope you will post the finished version, and best of luck with the closet--great idea!

Carrie said...

This is a beautiful painting.