Here is a behind-the-scenes peek on how my painting "Cube of Hearts" came to be.
Usually when I paint, I have a fairly good idea of what I want to create. With "Cube of Hearts", I decided to try a different approach, one where the painting would organically emerge from the marks. At least one artist I admire follows this process and I thought it would be worth emulating, just to see what happens. Here is what happened:
1. In the beginning, a lot of random abstract marks on a canvas. Doesn't look like much at this stage, and could turn into anything. I strengthen certain lines looking for patterns.
2. I keep painting randomly on it, trying to see where it goes. Busier and Messier. Which way is up? I turn the painting upside down and wonder: Is that a face on the top right quadrant and a cat in the bottom right quadrant. Maybe a monster of two?
3. I like some of the edges that show up at the top and decide to darken those areas to create a sense of sky, background, horizon and space:
4. I decided there is a hunched figure squatting in the foreground, and the cat in the bottom right is really more of a fox, given the bushy tail. I paint over the face to create a faceless blob. Maybe that'll be a creature of some kind.
5. I try to refine the figure, but realize it isn't working.
At this point I get stuck. I feel this painting isn't working and it's looking pretty un-aesthetic - not sure I can resuscitate it, Maybe the experiment is doomed for failure. I put it away.
For 6 months.
6. Six months later I put it back on the easel. I like the figure, I like the fox, I like the sky. Maybe I can do something with it after all. First thing I decide is that the figure is not going to be sitting, but floating. And if the figure is floating, better it floats, not over ground, but over clouds. Pink clouds. I'm so partial to pink clouds. The figure needs to be blue, to contrast the pink. and if the figure is blue, then the background needs to be orange to 'pop' the figure. And since the sky is blue, that'll tie the figure to the background, making the painting cohesive. And since the clouds are 'cool' that'll bring them to the front of the 'hot' orange background. Maybe this will work after all!
7. One week later, the fox is fleshed out and the figure has a dress ending in a mass of floating tendrils, one arm bent upwards - is it holding something? or holding onto something? I don't know yet. No happy with the face at this point though:
8. The tail on the fox is too fat. What exactly is that white blob in the back? Not liking the yellow hair - the color is too close to the background. I decide making the hair pink would give it more contrast (warm/cool) while also tying into the clouds and pulling the figure forward so it floats more:
9. The figure's eyes need to be open. The creature in the back needs to be friendly and furry:
10. I still have to figure out what the figure is doing with it's arms. Is it hanging from something: Balloons? A Rope? And what is it holding out near the fox: A crystal ball? A giant pearl? A heart? As I mull this over, inspiration comes from an unlikely source:
11. Meanwhile, I decide the other hand is holding onto... a parasol. Was that inspired by Mary Poppins? No idea, but it seems right. I decide the parasol needs to have a detailed Victorian look:
12. Now the painting is finally coming together. Lots of finishing touches - color progressions on the face, refinement on the fox. I decide the fox shouldn't have it's eyes open - it's more mysterious if the fox is smiling with eyes closed, which also matches the blobby monster in the background. I also need to fix the fox's muzzle - it seems a little off:
13: Final touches - the cube needs more refinement, and the white monster is standing out too much and needs to be 'knocked back' and the blue on the dress is contrasting too much with the orange. I need to harmonize the painting by glazing over both the dress and the white monster with a dilute orange glaze. Finally we are done:
In conclusion, this was an interesting experiment. I would never have come up with this image if I was trying to pre-conceive it so there is something to be said for 'emergent painting'. That said, this painting also took a loooong time from start to finish so I'm not too keen to devoting that much time to a single painting. Hard to make a living as an artist that way :)
Hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes peek!
Following upon the success of my Coffee-themed series of paintings, I am commencing on a series of whimsical paintings for Wine Lovers. Here are the first ten:
Here's what these paintings look like framed, floating on a black mat in a 15" x 15" black frame that really brings out the colors:
The above paintings are currently priced at $275 framed (less if you want to do your own framing). Also available as 8" x 10" paper prints and as 8" x 8" Limited Edition Metal Prints ($75).
Here's a timelapse video of the painting of Drinking Buddies (see prior blog posts for more time-lapse videos):