A little over a week ago, some people contacted me to say they really liked my work, especially the large pieces, and especially the blue paintings. I didn’t have anything in blue, large, at that point, but that comment did set me off. I had three, five by six, triptych panels (translation: nine panels to make three paintings) ready to work on. All the preliminary collage and silkscreen done, ready for paint. So, I decided now was the time to work on a large blue painting.
Usually I work on several pieces more or less simultaneously, moving between them, allowing drying and thinking time. Instead, this past week I worked, every day, on the same big blue painting. I kept telling myself to give it a rest, but the painting kept saying, stay with it. I used every blue in my box, light blues, dark blues, green blues, purples, the whole nine yards. And to my surprise, it looks good. Now I can give it a rest, sit back, take a few days away from it, work on other paintings, other colors, and when I come back to it, decide if it needs more or less.
In the process of painting this piece, it went through many changes, of course, but the biggest ones were when I had to let go of some things that worked well in themselves, but not with the whole. That is always the hardest part of painting. In my last Wednesday class, one of my students had done an internet search about space in artwork. Usually we tend to focus on image, but without the “right” space, nothing works. She found some fascinating information about “ma”, the Japanese aesthetic of space, the intangible and temporal qualities of space as expressed in their art, literature, architecture, design. It’s the space where nothing happens, allowing infinite possibilities. In this blue painting, when it became crowded with wonderful “things” happening everywhere, without “ma”, it became claustrophobic, overwhelming with too much beauty without the penetrating the intangible. Once I let go of the things and moved into the space, the painting became more alive.
Now I need to get away from it. See what it looks like in a few days. Maybe even take a photo.