Monday, April 02, 2007

Painting at the Margin

I did a bit of painting, long ago, as an art student. I never got around to working in oils, though. D and the kids remedied that lacuna in 2005, when for Father's Day they signed me up for an oil painting class. I took the class later that summer, completing one painting (which I later pitched) and nearly finishing the work below, "Aloe Study v. 2007.03.29."

Here's the full painting:

Aloe Study v.2007.03.29

Here's a detail:

Detail of Aloe Study v.2007.03.29

Why did it take me a year and a half to complete the painting? For a long while, I was content to leave it sitting on an easel in our reading room, squinting at it from time to time and telling anyone who would listen why I remained dissatisfied. Finally, last month, sorely needing a break from my paying gig, I added a few final touches and signed off on the painting.

Properly speaking, I didn't so much finish "Aloe Study v. 2007.03.29" as I gave up. Oils allow you extraordinary leeway to work, rework, and (alas) overwork a painting. That constitutes both the virtue of the medium and its peril. Painting in oils has thus forced me to learn not just how to mix the stuff and apply it to canvas, but also to calculate when the marginal costs of an additional brushstroke outweigh its marginal aesthetic benefits. I can't say that I got it right this last time around, but I don't think I completely botched it, and I enjoyed the exercise.


Anonymous said...

Very nice. I think using psychedelic oil paint would have been even better though. Perhaps you need to study the works of Andy Warhol. Keep up the good work!

Tom W. Bell said...

Do you eat that sort of oil paint to get the psychedelic effects? Or smoke it?

Glen Whitman said...

I really like it. It's kind of Georgia-O'Keefe-esque. Except for, you know, the long protruding thing in the center.

Tom W. Bell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom W. Bell said...

[Ugh. Too many typos. Here's another go.]

Thanks, Glen! Don't forget, though, that calla lilies have long protruding things, too. And O'Keefe didn't hesitate to paint them; see, e.g.,

Seems a bit crude, to me. I mean, that lily stamen is nothing but a big ol' veggie sex organ! As befits a fellow of my refinement, I've stuck to painting mere leaves.

Anonymous said...

I did notice that that long protruding thing in the center IS emphasized a little more through outlining and shading. It is most definitely Georgia-O'Keefe-esque. I might add that it looks like that long protruding thing in the middle might be even be construed somehow as a veggie sex organ to the casual passer-by. Georgia O'Keefe wasn't afraid of veggie-sexuality, so therefore you shouldn't be afraid to give the illusion of veggie sexuality. It's kind of fun to use your imagination this way when shopping for vegetables. Paint away!

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