A blog about art.
| 10 May, 2013 06:38
Venice prep sketch by M. Pia De Girolamo © Strathmore 400 sketchbook paper 14" x 11"
Though I work in an intuitive manner, as spontaneously as possible I often use a visual trigger as a jumping off point. It might be a place I visited, or just my backyard, in whatever season it happens to be. I will do sketches of the place from life, sometimes more realistically than I usually work and sometimes in a more impressionistic or abstract manner, just focusing on color or shape. When I come home and am back in the studio I will do color sketches based on the memory of the place, occasionally referring to my plein air sketches. In the studio these often become more infused with what I feel about the place or, they may serve as a vehicle for what is going on in my life at the moment.
In the color sketches from the studio above and below, you can see an example of the process I am describing:
Venice Prep Sketches by M. Pia De Girolamo © Aquabee sketchbook paper 9" x 6"
After doing many drawings and sketches on paper I may then jump to canvas. Though the sketches are guides I never try to reproduce them. They are useful in practicing how to manipulate the colors, gestures or shapes that I might use in the larger painting, kind of like when you practice moves in a sport.
Here are the final paintings I did after doing the sketches:
Venice 1 by M.Pia De Girolamo © Acrylic on Yupo 26" x 20"
Venice 2 by M.Pia De Girolamo © Acrylic on Yupo 26" x 20"
Venice 3 by M.Pia De Girolamo © Acrylic on Yupo 26" x 20"
| 18 April, 2013 06:56
Rose Heart by M. Pia De Girolamo © Acrylic on canvas, 30" x 40"
To recap my last blog post: I sometimes have difficulty reconciling the right and left halves of a horizontal painting. The following are some things that I do to get both sides to agree.
Sometimes it means bringing a color over from one side to another and working it into the rest of the painting. Loosening up an area that’s very sharply delineated or firming up an area that’s a bit too diffuse may be what’s needed. Coalescing lots of little fussy shapes into a larger more coherent whole or…conversely, throwing a shape into an amorphous area might be the right thing. The important thing is to take the plunge, notice what happens, see if it feels right or not, notice and follow any path which that gesture opens up.
Using acrylic paints as I do requires a particular way of working, because they dry quickly. I will extend drying time using various types of acrylic media, thicker paint, and a spray bottle with water. (Note: there are “open” acrylics-Golden makes one such line-with a slow drying time but I have not used them). However, for me it’s both the challenge and joy of acrylics to work quickly, getting down the most spontaneous, intuitive moves, gestures and marks that I can.
Because I don’t usually finish a painting in one session, when I go back in I must be open to recommitting to working on the whole painting. It’s usually difficult to work on just one area and not have it look out of balance (unless of course that is your intention!). Sometimes working on one area is all the painting needs but the point is to at least be open to the possibility of allowing the whole painting to evolve into something else.
Every artist works differently of course and this is just one way that works for me.
Please feel free to add your insights.
Next Post: Using preparatory sketches for intuitive abstract paintings: Is that “allowed”?!
| 27 March, 2013 16:31
Wild Heart by M. Pia De Girolamo ©, Acrylic on Canvas, 36" x 48"
When I use a horizontal canvas, given that I am working abstractly and not directly from a pre-designed still life or fixed landscape (other than hazy ones that might be in my head) I often have some difficulty reconciling the right and left halves of the painting. Try as I might to follow the dictum of “working on the whole painting” I seem to end up with two distinct zones which I must tie together in a way that looks unforced.
With a square canvas, unless I purposely decide to make the center the focus the issue is to pull away from the center while still getting all the parts to work as a whole. For me working on the square canvas is less problematic.
Sometimes these painterly issues may mirror existential issues and it can be a creative starting point for both a personal as well as an artistic exploration. (I”ll refrain from inserting a smiley face here).
Often I will like one side and not the other, or I’ll like both sides but they don’t mesh. Before resorting to cutting the painting in half, I set myself the task of getting the two sides to agree, which means that both sides will have to change (a nice metaphor for conflict resolution in general). I ask myself if I’m doing the right thing, changing what seem to be two good paintings into one that might not turn out so well. Mostly, I take the leap and in the end I am pleasantly surprised in getting both sides to “talk to each other”, with no regrets on my part.
Next Post: Some things that I do to get both sides of a painting to “agree”.
| 14 February, 2013 12:38
Byways by M. Pia De Girolamo © ,Acrylic on canvas, 48" x 48"
Most of my paintings, though abstract, reference the landscape. Occasionally a figure or part of a figure works its way in, sometimes by choice and sometimes by chance.The painting above is one of those. I started with some large shapes that reminded me of figures and though they changed in size and number the figurative quality of some of the forms remains. I see figures settled into a landscape. This was not just my impression; viewers who were unaware of my interpretation independently said the same thing.
It’s been a season of change in many ways and I think in this painting I affix those I love into the landscape of my heart.
| 17 January, 2013 10:43
Raven at Lost Lake, BC, Canada. Photo by M. Pia De Girolamo
This summer, during a trip to British Columbia, I had the rich experience of observing ravens and many other animals and seeing them appear in the art and stories of the First Nations (indigenous people of Canada). On a hike around a mountain lake, I came upon a large, stoic raven that seemed completely unconcerned with the human activity around it. Drawn to the bird’s striking appearance and solid sense of presence, I began painting a series of ravens, while reading about their behavior and learning about the symbolism attached to the bird. In Pacific Northwest myths, the raven is seen as a catalyst of change, an assistant to the Creator, a mischievous trickster, as well as a bringer of knowledge and light. In other world mythologies, the raven symbol also has mixed connotations, including associations with ill-fortune as well as with wisdom, thought and memory. It seems to me that the raven is both yin and yang (pardon the cross-cultural symbol-mixing here) and basically stands for life in all its complexity.
What's Up? by M. Pia De Girolamo. Acrylic on canvas. 30" x 24"
In retrospect, the raven as subject matter for my painting proved to be an apt symbol for the past 7 months. A continual series of ups and downs became the new normal, with lots of changes and unexpected events, good and bad, to deal with. As a result, getting into the studio was harder (but fortunately not impossible) and writing blog posts…well, I wrote the last one shortly after the election in November.
Ravens, by M. Pia De Girolamo. Charcoal on paper. 22" x 30"
But it’s a New Year and I’m just about finished cleaning out the studio, throwing out the accumulated detritus of the past year in order to make space for new paintings and drawings to come.
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Calendar Of Posts
- Preparatory Sketches in Abstract Painting
- Two Sides to Every Story: Reconciling different parts of a painting-Part Two
- Two Sides to Every Story: Reconciling different parts of a painting-Part I
- A Valentine's Day Meditation
- Consider the Raven: Looking Back on the Old Year While Facing the New.
- Art and Free Speech: Some thoughts about the "purpose" of art.
- "Leaving Home"
- Painting Possibilities Part II: "Painting Myself Out of a Corner"
- Painting Possibilities Part I: "Did I Just Paint That?"
- Vegas vs. Venice. And the Winner Is...