Monday, May 26, 2014

phase 3 redux - develop thoughtful algorithms

This week - working on elements for vanitas still lifes. 

mixed media, life-sized

cut out and photographed with black velvet in the background

I was asked to participate in an upcoming still life show at Thompson Giroux Gallery next month. I love still life, and I'm excited to be part of the show!...I also need about 3 new paintings, so I instituted the emergency schedule and have been at work on these by 6 am most days. That should help, but in addition to the quantity of time, I'm testing a tempus fugit project theory concerning the quality of that time. In the spirit of phase 3 and designing thoughtful algorithms, I'm trying to build it the smart way. 

Tempus Fugit Project algorithm:

1) don't panic; it's not life or death (haha - since these are memento mori, that's a little funny, right?) 
2) review information and identify relevant criteria (these need to be painted still lifes, medium to large scale.)
3) obtain the necessary materials (the paper is arches oil paper, and I was lucky to find enough of it locally at sketch :). The paint is golden high flow acrylic.)
4) put away unnecessary stuff in studio/ studio clean. (on-going)
5) determine subjects and research as necessary. I studied Dutch and Spanish 17th century still lifes for a project last spring, so I feel ready, but I also looked at some of my favorites online.
6) collect and/or photograph objects.The skulls and flowers come from my house, but other things, like a baroque candlestick, for example, I photographed last week on my field trip to St. John the Divine. I'm still searching for a good shell...

The algorithm was helpful in getting started, but I'm also looked at the way I'm painting the still lifes. I want to make them in a way that shows how I see them. I see still lifes object by object, so instead of gathering everything together and  developing the whole painting in stages, I'm going to paint it object by object, finishing one thing, then moving to the next. So I listed the elements critical to a vanitas still life (skulls, flowers, fruit, then a selection of candlestick, shell, shiny object). I'm working on similar objects at the same time in order of importance (skulls, then flowers, them fruit, etc.)  

I think this is a good approach for me because it allows me to "batch" similar objects. It's more interesting for me because I get to examine the variations in two objects of the same type and appreciating the tiny differences between them. Then, I cut them out. When I have enough objects, I'll arrange them. I can photograph, look at the compositions on the little screen, adjust, repeat until I have a composition that I'm happy with. Then go back in with the shadows and reflected lights.

There's another aspect of this experiment - both the material (golden high flow acrylic) and the support (arches oil painting paper) are relatively new, becoming available in the last few years. I love new materials :) 


the cut out sections of the paper are from the skulls

This is about 6 layers in - charcoal, gel medium, grey pencil,/white pencil, black acrylic, white and grey ink, color pencil

This is in the "gray +" phase, before I start applying thin layers of color paint.
(I don't keep track of the number of layers of paint, but for the skulls I used 4 pigments - black, white, yellow and green. For me, that's the minimum for an object that's in color (balck, white, warm tone, cool tone.) There are probably about 8 - 12 layers, with some areas being more dense than others.
 The flowers are a collection of objects that combine to make a unit
 (each blossom and leave is like a distinct object), so it will have many more layers of paint. (eep.)
a nice droplet :)
The bouquet on the right is from my yard, but I didn't have any roses blooming yet,
so I "needed" to get myself a rose ;)
Feline Assistant Jr. approves -
 doesn't she look like an adorable, feline Ferdinand?