Where A Painting Starts

The painting "False Self" began as much of my work does, a serious game of trying to catch something out of the corner of my mind's eye. Chasing the edges of what that thing might look like through concentration turns into mental staring, an activity that does little but makes it run away from me.

My method around this is to create simple versions of what I'm after as quickly as possible using collage. As I'm shuffling shapes and colors around each other, it's a knee jerk reaction to whether it works or not. 

A few hours later and many, many attempts later, I might have a handful that intrigues me. Typically I will develop three or four into paintings at a time. 

The 2" x 2" collage for "False Self" looked like this: 

I knew when I first saw it; it was part of "The Hapless Creatures" series which deal with figures that are more like symbolic monuments on a landscape. Somehow the space around them becomes an extension of their own helpless, often faceless selves.

The forms to the left of the composition felt like it was the primary character in the story. The black shapes and arcs to the right were the vibrations, shadows, something being emitted by the figure that was to be, I wasn't sure how.

I blocked in the colors and silhouettes.

Slowly, I began to discern who or what was going to dominate the landscape. The dripping, shiny forms pouring over the green were crucial to the piece, I loved the creepy, glossy quality of it.

Although I loved the shapes to the right of the figure and the pointy forms jutting towards it, the black felt wrong. It was detracting from the figure. Because gravity and traditional perspective aren't relevant in many of my paintings, the forms on the upper right now were casting shadows on an upright floor. 

As delicious as the red cubes in the corner were, they were starting to be at odds with everything. They had to go.

With that red cube removed, I began to see the edge of the green effigy start to take shape. It also appeared as though even the figure couldn't see; it was staring at something, this is when I added the oval mirror.

It's somewhere in this process that the name of a piece pops in my head.

tierce_nathalie_hapless creature no 2.jpg