Good Intentions

As I said, I had a very good crit session on Friday. The comments from Terry, Mary, and Gerrie were astute, I felt I knew what needed done to the painting, and for once I was certain I could deal with the questionable areas.

Here is the original as my fellow critics saw it:


It even (now) has a name: Alizarin Palisades, 18 x 24″, oil on hardboard. This version was painted about two weeks ago.

Even with abstracts, I like a sense of space and movement.  So one comment, from Mary, made me think about pushing the central dark patch further back by lightening the paint around it. There were also concerns about the yellow bits and some of the pinkish whites. So, OK, I could deal with all those bits and make a better painting. I thought I could also enhance the sense of the black patches as “trails” leading to the center.

Well, pride goeth before we fall into our paint pots, and I certainly mucked up what was there without improving upon it. I was using a particular tool that requires the paint to have a thick consistency — both the paint on the canvas and the paint on the tool should be a bit tacky.  But I forgot that part of the process and so ended up with blobs and blips. And the more I tried to fix, the worse it became. It ultimately was too mucked-up to allow revision. I set it down for a while while I worked on a couple of other abstracts. And then, I returned to it, realizing that I couldn’t fix it — I had to stop trying to renovate and work it anew. This piece required a large-scale overhaul.

So here is the painting as it looks now. I may turn it in another direction (or 3). The direction I liked best evoked a Christian cross, which was definitely not in my Palisades concept, so I had to make the top the bottom and vice-versa. Or maybe, eventually,  it will go on its side.


The blue blobs originated in conjunction with another abstract, of the John Day country, that I worked on after I set the ruined one aside. I suddenly realized that this blue color is a part of many of those palisade like forms — the two geological creations alternate as they cascade down palisade-like forms in the John Day Fossil Beds. And that they would lighten a piece that was awfully dark, even in its better configuration.

I have another day or two to muck about with this before my painting critique group on Tuesday. Looking at it on the web, I see the blues seem a bit plopped onto the surface, so I will probably try to integrate them a bit more. And maybe I can delete the inadvertent Christian referent. I think I may add back in more crimson, although it may be that the photo is lighter than the actual piece.

I think I will walk this path with a great deal more humility in the future. Just because I see and understand doesn’t mean I can do what needs to be done! —June

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2 Responses to Good Intentions

  1. June says:

    ummm, an interesting idea, Olga. Subtracting in oils is a bit more difficult than adding water, but perhaps an overpainting that contains a bit of transparent gray…..

    Thanks for checking in. I keep trucking along, working, trying to suss out what it is I mean to be doing. In this case, I haven’t figured out what it was I wanted to achieve, or at least nothing more than a bit of vague notions….

    Thanks for checking in.


  2. Olga says:

    It is just such a challenge, making art. I have a piece which I ruined by acting too quickly and not understanding how my changes would change the whole dynamic of what I wanted to achieve. Indeed I probably did not understand what I wanted to achieve until I’d mucked it up!

    An illustrator I worked with once gave me a glorious solution to problems similar to yours: she worked in watercolour and would simply put the sheet of paper under the shower and knock it back. I used to paint in acrylic in those days, and so did similarly and was amazed at how easy it was to revitalise a piece of work. Perhaps rather than adding you could subtract -?


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