Sunday, August 3, 2008

Latest Watercolor - Sunny Hillside

I have four paintings in progress at the moment. Normally I have two that are stuck and two that are moving. At the moment I have one that is sort-of stuck in the layout phase, one that was near completion (done now, but it was a simple one - see photo) and two that are acrylic and puzzles.

I like the square format. I discovered some time ago that when I work in rectangles I often end up with a square composition and a section of the piece that should probably be cropped, anyway. So I think in squares when I compose, and the last few years I gave in to that and work almost exclusively on squares. It makes me happier. I need to look at my photographs, some time, to see if it happens there, as well.

This piece is completely out of my head - unusual for me. I normally start with dozens of photos (which have nothing to do with the final painting, they just have stimulating shapes and composition) and draw and erase until something emerges. I plan to document the process on the next piece, because I think it's weird enough that it might help someone else who can't compose the "normal" way. I'd have been greatly aided years ago if I'd ever caught a glimpse of this way of thinking.

So this piece... I often walk around gardens or drive around beauty spots looking feverishly for the ultimate arrangement. I'm looking for that composition of shapes and lights and darks that will push all of my buttons. I never find it. I come close sometimes, and that drives me crazy. I want to move things around - this tree a little to the left and larger, that background a little lighter, or a little darker, the hillside steeper and lit from the other side, etc. So this is a first attempt to put on paper the kind of juxtapositions I'm looking for. I want steep, and edges, and roads, and shadows, and shapes that echo and repeat... This watercolor does some of that for me. I drew and erased and moved things around for several evenings until I got the basic placement correct. Then it's been mostly about creating the contrast I wanted, and that bleached out "too much light" look of summer in the distance.

So while this reads as a landscape, and that's part of what I like about it (the kind of landscape it is - the kind of place I want to be) it primarily tickles some of my abstract itches. It's primarily about that big curve, and the play between the two darker corners around that curve.

>>>> Appendix de Grenouille #18 <<<<

Grenouille actually hates to get wet. But he does sometimes have normal froggy urges. Yesterday he had a craving for a lily pad. We don't really have a water garden, and he'd hate to swim out to a lily pad, anyway. Good thing we have nasturtiums.


linda said...

dear steve,
I adore your paintings and wondered if I may be so bold as to talk to you more about your process via email? I don't want to intrude...

Painting in squares has me thinking of that same thing..that rectangle. I actually "think" I paint in circles, working outward because the curve is my thing, not the straight line. Interesting to see that!

Thanks for strolling today in my world :)


Steve Emery said...

Linda - I'd love to talk more about painting in e-mail. I'm at Yahoo. Put a number seven on the end of arnly and you have my address.

I want to know more about your technique, too, so we can compare notes. I don't use any scumbling or palette knife style right now - so I have a lot to learn there, especially. And I'd like to know more about how you "grow" the fanciful and tropical looking plant-like shapes in your sketchbook post recently. They remind me of bird-of-paradise blossoms, orchids, and other exotics, but all your own.

odd chick said...

I love this. I just wanted to look and look and look... that to me is great art.. that you can't tear your eyes away, you just have to take it in and breeeaath it... mmm , and this one beathes easy.

I have just finished a painting of a man I saw in Greece last March. Would you be willing to critique it?? because of the affect your art has on me, your opinion would be very important to me.

Anonymous said...

Because I am not an artist, I could be intimidated to speak here! I've enjoyed both Linda and Oddchick's blogs and art. I need to add both to my blogroll. In fact, I think it may be time to add a category for art and artist blogs.

Your newest painting is really interesting to me. I love the colors and the shadows. I especially like how the shadows of the trees converge in the middle, making an almost waterlike feature.

Maybe that's what M. Grenouille is seeking.

Steve Emery said...

Odd Chick - Thank you very much. I would love to talk more - the comment to Linda has my e-mail address, please feel free to send me yours, and then we can compare notes.

DCup - Please don't hesitate to comment about my art. If you like or don't like something, and why - all of it is interesting and helpful, and you don't have to be an artist to have an intelligent reaction. Thank you for commenting.

Part of me wanted to do something different and more predictable with those shadows, by the way - I'm sometimes smart enough to ignore that part. Sometimes.

linda said...

ummm, I think I have that but if not, I put my email on my blog profile(until someone makes me wish I hadn't. I am being trusting, a trait I DON'T possess). Now I am thinking I shouldn't put it there, heart is beating faster...come and get it while it's there! :O

oh, many thanks for your generous spirit in sharing thoughts!...

Liberality said...

Another nonartist here. Geeze where to begin. Reading about your process is interesting but I don't really understand it. It feels like something I could almost understand but just not quite. Anyway, the end product--your painting is beautiful. I like curves and color and shadows and light. I especially like your colors.

odd chick said...

Wow, steve, what you did for me on my art was probably the single most generous thing anyone has done for me in this whole journey to learn. Thank you so much. How did you know I was "tentative" - yes, I was scared to mess up on the man!! I actually understood your critique which I give myself kudos for, and I agree, I don't like the chairs, but didn't know what to do. I think if I strengthen the floor, correct the orange, give more color to the man, (I wanted his hat to be lighter, I scraped until I was afraid of messing up the paper, and obscure the stuff in the store..or paint it again. I wanted to keep the integrity of the Greek man as being plain, because their clothing is old and out-dated. I actually loved that part of him. But I still think I can do that. ... anyway... thank you a million times over for your generous comments and just taking the time to help a new artist. You must have been at my spot at one time... and know what it means to get real help.

Steve Emery said...

Liberality - Thanks. These are pretty muted colors, for me (grin). I wanted to focus on the light on that hillside (and the steepness of that hillside), and use the white of the paper to get it. That's the fun part, to make white paper seem like something else. As for the process - have you ever tried to photograph something and moved to one side to get something lined up better, only that loused up something else in the photo? And you end up going for the average of the two...? That's how nearly everything looks to me except some works of art. In a painting or drawing the JOY is being able to put everything in the best possible place. The hard part is challenging every single location and shape, until they are ALL the way you want them. Usually I use more accident to achieve unexpected (not boring) results... More on that in a later post, once I've photographed the whole process. Maybe with pictures the rest of it will make sense.

Odd Chick - You are certainly welcome - I know you'll do the same for me. I'll be happy to comment in future on your blog, or in e-mail - your choice. I'll respond in whichever place I see the request.

But I never offer unsolicited advice on artworks - not to the artist, anyway.