Tuesday, February 4, 2014

All Questions, No Answers

"Two Orchids, Out of Bloom (sketch)"
 8 x 10 inches, oil on canvas

As promised yesterday, this piece segues me nicely into a topic I worry about periodically - how to do preparatory sketches for a piece without burning myself out on a setup before I even get to the large canvas?

Well, I don't have an answer, but one thing seems clear: even if I enjoy and feel really excited about the sketch, if I'm still dreading starting the larger version, it really shouldn't happen. 

In this case, I have a totally different composition in mind from the same setup - vertical, so I can incorporate all the lovely green leaves of the orchids, and plenty of the negative/shadow space that I love. Sounds good, right? So why has the half-begun canvas been sitting on my easel for days? I keep telling myself that my dread of the large canvas is just some kind of stage fright, and not an issue with the painting itself. 

But I'm worried. I'm intrigued, as an artist, a mom, and a human, by the things that kids make. How fascinated they can be by jumbled strings of random beads, such as this one that my daughter made at preschool awhile back. But is it good in a painting? Does it work automatically because it interests me, and I'm the artist here, after all? I didn't set out to say anything with this piece, besides 'These are beautiful objects from my life that I love looking at together.' But as much as I try to deny it, meaning keeps sneaking in. I've discussed it before: my dread of artist statements: my dread of making any statement at all, beyond 'It's beautiful,' but a setup like this appeals to me more and more on a personal, narrative level. Either I'm getting old, or growing as an artist. You heard it here first!