Sunday, December 11, 2011

The magic point...


Hello again!  I have been incredibly busy painting pet portraits for holiday gifts.  While it’s awesome to have so much work, it can also be a little stressful.  Especially when you’re on the road.

For example, I have found out that the iphone photo of the little deceased Australian Shepherd that I’m working from has plumbed new depths of fuzziness.  No matter how much I use PhotoShop to try to straighten things out, there are THINGS ABOUT THIS DOG’S FACE THAT I CANNOT SEE

Although maybe it’s my middle-aged eyes.  Or the fact that I have been painting in iffily-lit hotel rooms and guest rooms across the Southwest for the past two weeks, and not in my usual studio.  Where, I should add, I can blow up the photos to 20 times their ordinary size.

Anyhow, I’ve been VERRRY critical of my work lately.  But recently on some of these pieces, I’ve hit the MAGIC POINT. (example above...)

What, you may ask, is the magic point?

Let me explain it to you like this.

I have this piece of canvas.  I take these crudely-wrapped bundles of bristles and I push around gobs of pigment to form different shapes on the canvas.  The shapes eventually start to take the shape of something vaguely recognizeable, like a raccoon, maybe, or (often, actually) a hedgehog.

Eventually the shapes, after I have done enough pushing and pulling, will get to the point where the pigments roughly approximate something like a cat.  Or a dog.  So then I have to keep going.

But it’s painfully clear (ha ha, the first time, I wrote this PAINTfully clear, which is totally a Freudian slip) that this is just a load of pigment on a canvas in some organic shapes.  It’s just paint.  It’s got no life.

But if I keep going, I know I’ll get rewarded.

So I keep messing around with this stuff, on and on, well past the point where a sane person would have thrown in the towel and headed to the neighborhood bar.

And then I reach the magic point.

All of a sudden, what was a bunch of random smears of paint suddenly coalesces.  I look down at what I’ve been doing, and say, 

“Ah, Fluffy, HELLO!  THERE you are!”

And they are.  There’s some essence of the animal’s spirit right there in the paint.  And I, being too stubborn or stupid to quit, have somehow captured it.

That’s the magic point.  That’s when I know I’m on the road out.  The painting may not be FINISHED (in fact, usually it ISN’T), but from that point on out, my job is mainly to NOT lose the spirit or cover it up by stupidly or carelessly slopping more paint on it.

At least that’s the way I think about it. 

But maybe I have been breathing too many paint fumes!

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