Tuesday, April 30, 2013

In My Studio: Thoughts on White Space

The Backyard (looking out and from above), 2013, Oil on Panel, 36 x 48 IN PROGRESS
In the last few months, I have been very preoccupied with this idea of using the white of the panel and how it can interact in a painting and if so how it can do that successfully.

I was always taught to quickly paint out and address any white space, and, if I am being completely honest, I usually encourage my students to do the same.  It is necessary in achieving a sort of dominance over the materials when you are a beginner feeling so hesitant.  

But what about now, when I feel I have a real ownership or at least understanding?  I make paintings that have always engaged the question of space.  I like to see how it can flatten and extend and condense.  In fact, I would say it is one of my main overarching obsessions in the construction of a painting.

Using the white of the primed ground is something I have always done in my drawings and so in recent months I have been trying to make paintings this way too.  In the most successful outcomes, the two areas marry and lock together like a puzzle almost.  It creates this push and pull of what is 'background' or behind that makes the art nerd in me positively giddy.  It also has been challenging me in a new way to make a painting that works.  

The drawing that kicked off this thinking...
One of the first paintings I did with this in mind...

A larger more recent painting
The right wheel and seat, things that should be most solid are made from saved up white ground

 I think I am most pleased by the piece at the top, it is my most recent large painting.  I did it completely from memory of our backyard both from looking out our third floor bedroom door and our living room window at that blue hour of night.  

Of course, since I felt I had finally got a good stab at this marriage of ground and paint, I promptly told myself I now needed to make a painting where the entire background was addressed and then smeared away.  It ended up being the weirdest painting I have ever made and I can't decide yet if it is horrible or I love it so I won't put it into the blogosphere to live for eternity.  But things are churning here in my little studio -- hope they are in yours too.


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