Thursday, September 22, 2011


Two nights ago I dreamed that I was Leonardo da Vinci (the painter; not any other facets of his character). This seems to have signalled something because I seem to be painting well at the moment and have completed three paintings (one finished, two underpainted) in three days. Technically there are a few subtle changes. Firstly I'm using ivory black instead of mars. I don't think that made much difference (right now this conversation is adopting exactly the character of one in the book "Return to Oz" where the mysterious habits of the Wizard of Oz were discussed - anyway I'll continue)...

Another difference is that I'm much more free in using and preparing a selection of colours now, and I'm using off-white whites that are tinted just enough. The detail level on the monoliths is also about right, and I'm making sure to refresh my memory regarding textures to be painted, and practising visualisation before working - although this is no longer conscious. It's hard to quantify what's right in many ways. Personally though I have been more focused and ascetic, shunning people more and seeking emotionless solitude. This seems to liberate more brain power and is perhaps as important as any other factor.

My recent "turkey" painting features rocks my Leonardo. Copying another artist's work is a way of absorbing their personality. He lacked confidence as an artist, painting thinly and slowly, anxiously, perfectly, worried about every tiny flaw and crack in an autistic obsessive way. This lack of confidence led to lots of "tricks" and techniques to eliminate emotional concern and reduce art to Spockian logic. This worked. Leonardo was a brass machine.

At first I thought that his lack of confidence as an artist was a flaw and that to have flair and bravado like Velazquez or Frans Hals or Rembrandt was the ideal, but for me at least over confidence produces far worse results than under. There's nothing worse than thinking your wild motions are brilliant. Everything must be scrutinised. The correct degree of focus is needed, and the right amount of élan and flair, but this must be exactly right, not too much and not too little. Let cool objectivity be the artists' guide.

...and now to today's work.

Here is the idea sketch for "Trying to Ignite Love". It's a seascape but those lines are largely just that, not solid objects. This creates a few interesting technical quandaries. I've decided to paint the background first and ignore the lines for the most part. The Sun and Moon feature, as does the large drip blob, which is flowing off a tabletop... but the important parts will be added in a top layer.

Here is the underpainting...

I have five more paintings awaiting underpainting (which includes three for the Love Reliquary). Let the season continue! Joy! Trumpets! Good painting dear readers. Bon appétit!

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