The paintings in this post are available to purchase. Click on each image for more details.
I am finally recovered from a marathon workshop with the incredible (and hilarious) Pat Dews! It will be a month before all of my "starts" are finished, but I did have time this weekend to ponder and complete one piece. Which, in Pat Dews land, means I have a bunch of completed pieces. :)
One of the many lessons learned last week was the value of cropping. Dews had us work on full sheets (22" x 30") all week long. Even when space was limited and paint and elbows were flying, we worked LARGE.
The piece (which became pieces) I am showing you today consists of a dozen or more layers of watercolor, acrylic and gesso applied with a variety of tools and texture makers. The final layer was a waterfall of watery gesso and ink over a pre-dried layer of gloss medium, then spritzed with alcohol.
The Weight of Water
Though I really loved the textures and colors in the large piece, the overall composition was rather stagnant and dull. I was ready to start over, until Dews grabbed a set of "L's" (a 22" x 30" double sided mat cut into two L shapes) and began focusing on sections within the painting. To my delight, there were five paintings within the larger piece, each needing a bit of finishing but otherwise delightful all by themselves.
Many of Pat Dews' own complete paintings are cropped from large pieces, then finished with slight adjustments to make them sing.
Another lesson (which resulted in an "aha" moment for me) was that abstract paintings generally work better with the weight on the top. This is counter-intuitive, as realism places the darker colors on the bottom of the painting. Time and again during critique time, Dews rotated paintings to place the darkest part on the top, and the entire class said "whoa!"
Shadows of Civilization
Out of Line
The third lesson I took away was the importance of finishing and construction paper. You might be going "huh?" at that last bit...
Using pieces of colored construction paper, Dews taped objects to each painting she reviewed to demonstrate how the addition of one line, a half circle or a tiny square could "finish" a painting. The construction paper allows you to audition ideas without changing the painting, until you identify the winner. In the piece to the left, it was the yellow line at the bottom right. Without it, the painting didn't work nearly as well.
I will be working on the remaining starts over the next month, and can hardly wait to see what's hiding in all of these glorious full sheets of texture and color!