Red has never been my favorite color. But ever since my son told me about how the fires in California were making the air unbreathable … and ever since I saw the daytime photos of San Francisco with red skies … I’ve been painting red paintings. Fires are horribly fascinating.
My first attempt was also an experiment with using a lot of fluid acrylic on raw canvas and I named it Intense, because my feelings were and the painting was.
The intensity carried over into my next painting, Rage. All about the red sky, the air pollution, and my son and his family trying to breathe.
My next painting was my attempt to calm it down a little, to almost make it a beautiful sunset. Aglow is still mostly red, but not so violent.
Finally, after hearing that the fires on the West coast seemed to be slowing down, I managed my most serene “fire” painting yet.
Blue Ridge started as a painting about the fire just barely visible atop distant mountains, something I visually remembered from a years ago trip to the Rockies. Somehow in the painting it became quieter, more peaceful.
Unfortunately, I haven’t banished the demons yet, because I still wake up in the middle of the night thinking about the fires and how I want to paint them. My next two, though as yet unfinished, are more red, more violent, less peaceful. The fires are still horribly fascinating.
My studio isn’t huge. That’s the bad news: it restricts what I am able to do. It’s also the good news. Because I have minimal storage space, my recently completed paintings are often propped up against the wall, here and there, forcing me to look at them, reminding me of what I’ve done and what I was trying to do. It’s motivation to keep trying. Let the experiments continue.
My two most recently finished paintings, although very different in technique from each other, are very similar in style and technique to experiments recently started.
Blue Ridge is a continuation of my desire to combine the atmospheric effects of acrylic thinned with water on wet raw canvas (wet-on-wet) with some harder edges achieved by putting the thinned acrylic down on dry raw canvas (in which case I have to put the wetting agent directly in the paint … and remember to let the previous layers dry).
Blue Ridge is a wonderful combination of soft and hard edges, both atmospheric and stylized.
It’s all rather complicated and fraught with peril. My initial attempt, Intense, was a total failure in terms of the technique, although I liked the resulting painting. (You can read about it in my Oct. 7, 2020 blog post.) My next experiment, Just Glow, was more of a success with the hard edges, although it doesn’t look like anything I normally should have produced.
My second painting, Aaah, is the result of a totally different experiment: painting with unthinned fluid acrylics on textured canvas (light molding paste added to gessoed canvas).
In my earlier experiments with painting on textured canvas, I created the texture by simply gessoing over previously awful paintings. With Blown, the texture was used to help show the force of the wind. In Aaah, the wind and the clouds are more chaotic, less unidirectional.
I seem to be making some headway. My experiments are a little clearer and I’m remembering what I did and why I did it … and most importantly, what did and didn’t work.
So, let the experiments continue…