I have a ‘might be salvageable’ cupboard where I keep a stack of paintings that didn’t work for one reason or another. I like to play about with them when I have an odd hour here or there. Sometimes adjustments to the colour or values is all that is needed or the brushwork can be cleaned up or the painting is too tight and some bolder brush or knife work might liven it up. Or, at the time, I didn’t have a clear idea how to handle a new subject but later I can see my through it. Of course there are those pictures that just shouldn’t have been started in the first place – the ones where I scratch my head and wonder what ever was I thinking!
The painting below was done from some reference I gathered when visiting with a friend on his boat at a marina in Sidney, a town not too far from my studio. It started life as a 24×18 with a fairly faithful representation of the boats in the background, a lot of rocks and water in the foreground and some geese in the middle bit. It didn’t work. It was boring and it ended up in the reject cupboard. A few months ago, I hauled it out and tackled it again.
I’ll post the new version first followed by the ‘reject’.I invite you to play ‘spot the difference’.
What did I do?
I sorted through my reference files and found another group of boats with the same lighting and, without planning or drawing anything, I started on the right and worked across to the left. First I broke up that dull wall of green with some sky and a suggestion of buildings and added some rocks and beach and then the boats and reflections.
I decided that the large rock, upon which the two geese are standing, was too large and dominated the space so I flattened it. And the row of sleeping geese, which I had once thought made an interesting shape, seemed contrived and had to go. I started replacing them with water and reflections and some more mud but stopped before eliminating all of them. I probably went to make a cup of tea. I’m glad I did because I quite like the two that remain.
I then tried a number of approaches to the bottom third but nothing worked so I stuck a piece of masking tape across it at the 18″ mark. Better. I took out most of the rocks and mud I had painted and went back to a larger area of water to lead into the painting. This time I kept it simpler allowing the top third to draw the eye.Better still.
I think this one can stay out of the cupboard……..
Steven Kaiser says
I haven’t seen your reject art… All I have seen is what you have shown, and what you expressed. But I bet you could salvage all these pieces and use them for something new that may, in the end, be better than your best pieces.. You are lucky to be already proficient in creating pieces that give the effect of reality.
Now would be a great time getting away from reality with the rejects, twisting it so it is more noticeable for one reason or another… and taking advantage of pieces you don’t want to use anyway.
What I mean is, you are already great at making pieces look real. Maybe now would be a good time with getting out of your comfort zone.
There are so many artists who do paintings that show reality… and so many who do abstract…
You already have the ability to do real paintings. And with all your reject pieces, it would be a great place to start creating contrasting pieces of reality verses abstract.
Doing this will force out the reality in the pieces to look more real AND the abstract to look mores in the same piece because as I’m sure you know, the eye sees what it sees through contrast/change in a piece.
Change. That is the future of art. In your case, change for contrast.
Don’t believe me? Try it with one old piece. It won’t be easy because you will already have quite a bit of detail, so pick one that is far from finished with less detail. As you go, take parts for more detail for reality, and parts for more abstract.
They will vibrate with each other and make the interest in the piece explode outward (dimensional and style/form change can create change just as much as angle, shape, etc)
Mary Rose says
I think she is doing great. Too much of art these days consists of very bad “abstract and contemporary” art. It all looks like it was done by the same artist. As for “change” being the future of art? I doubt it unless present and new artists follow the trend of not being able to create reality-based art. I’ll take Cezanne, Renoir and that crowd any day. They were originals. They didn’t copy what was trendy in those days.
I have gone ahead and removed this post. But let me say… That one of the biggest problems with artists today is they are not interested in growth. All they want is to have pats on the back by people like you.
I didn’t say I didn’t like her art or that it wasn’t good. I gave her another direction to go. A powerful one. And all you did was poo poo on it.
Do you remember when it was cool for scientists to work alone? Then they started working together and now knowledge has grown exponentially.
Art is still in that alone phase, because of people who need constant padding o the back, and people like you who protect them.
Growth means listening to new ideas.
Contrast means enhancing. Just like putting red next to green-blue will enhance the red more than red next to yellow will enhance red.
Putting really next to non-reality will do the same thing.
Maybe you should stop coddling this woman and let her learn instead of kissing her cheek and making her feel good
One more thing. Cezanne and Renoir would have been considered abstract during their time. We just have a name for their art now.
Abstract art: art that does not attempt to REPRESENT EXTERNAL REALITY, but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures.
This is the definition the computer gave for abstract art. It still may look real, but just not for the sake of looking exactly real like a picture.
The reality in abstract art, like trees, people (Picasso), etc, come from abstract and reality.
The future of art is in growth. Not stagnation. Try something new… take what other people do and put it in the back of your head. You don’t have to copy. But learn from it. Make your own art better.
This is what Cezanne and Renoir did. This is what Van Gogh did. They all took what was already there, learned from it and grew.
Leisa Luis-Grill says
Thanks, Deborah. I am still a “baby artist” though I am 60, and the way you deconstruct what works and what doesn’t in this painting help a lot whether I’m starting new or trying to salvage a “reject”.
Booth Malone says
Well done, Deborah. Rethinking a “decent” painting into a really nice one is no easy thing. And glad to know what to now call my stack of half-starts.
Couldn’t disagree more with an earlier comment to get “out of your comfort zone.” Re-imaging a composition, and basically starting over is never comfortable. I think you are already thinking in the abstract when you are exploring possibilities.
I had originally made a post about a way you could advance your art. I removed it because for some reason people have taken it the wrong way.
I was not insulting your art. It’s great. But aI was just suggesting some new possible things to try that could create significant growth.
One of the problems artists have is they are very protective of their art maybe because they hold it close to them.
If artist were to work together in sharing ideas and getting new perspectives I bet your art would grow significantly quicker.
This was my goal. I’m sorry you only want to have your back patted and only want to work alone. The good news for you, is this is exactly how almost all artist feel… Which is why many of them have been artists for 50 years and progressed to very little. I just wish we could all work together instead for greater growth instead of just posting and having our backs patted for “A job well done”.
This is too bad because artists all have so much potential for growth… and they ruin it with big egos and tiny self esteems.
I’m sorry if I sound bitter and frustrated. I really really am so frustrated and I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m really not trying to be hurtful. This is something I have been trying to explain for so long and artists are SO closed minded. No one will listen. All they want to do is have their egos stroked.
Contrast is what makes art. If you are using color, shape, etc… it doesn’t matter what the contrast.
I was suggesting you use your art… it’s already got the real look… with abstract… on the same artwork. It will push out the real and abstract separately and make it look, possibly surreal, or even different, In your mind.
I don’t know what else to say.
This is why I don’t date artists anymore.
One more thing. I don’t want you to think I am trying to be hurtful or bashing your work. Here is my email: Steven_marc_kaiser@yahoo.com. It’s a real email. Any of you can write me and tell me personally how much you agree or disagree with me or what else can be done to change my ideas.
That’s my goal. COMMUNICATION. It wouldn’t be fair for me to post on this site and not put this here.
I am admittedly quite bitter. I have been dealing with the issue like this one for SO long.
Write whatever you want… In person.