Sunday, April 29, 2012

a happy accident above harrison street

"A Happy Accident Above Harrison Street"
36" x 36"
acrylic on canvas

Finally, I finished this painting today, just in time for our final grad class/critique this coming Tuesday night. One thing I learned most when working on this one was to never, ever go into a piece expecting to finish early.  I really rushed into this painting from the start, convinced I'd have it completed in a couple of classes, then on to the next one. Nope, it just doesn't work that way, at least for me, and quite the opposite occurred. As a result of rushing early on, I ended up having to fix a lot of mistakes and some not-so-happy accidents. Most notable was when I was walking to class from my car, through the parking lot, painting in tow while a mighty wind blew. The wind ended up blowing the painting into my jacket zipper causing a minor, but very noticeable patch of scratch marks. I wasn't too happy about this and upon getting to class, promptly mixed what I thought was the right color combination, and instead used the wrong type of blue (without even testing it out on another surface). This began a chain of unfortunate events that evening, as it seemed like each consecutive step I took with the painting made it worse, until I ended up having to basically redo the entire piece, where I once thought I would be finished. This was extremely frustrating, and at one point I wanted to throw it off the nearest bridge, after kicking the crap out of it first. After getting over the original frustration and accepting the fact that I simply need to slow down, I was good. Even my teacher said something to me that I tell my elementary art students all the time, and that was that I shouldn't worry, it's not a race. So, I needed to practice what I preach. Once again, I have to give my wife and her painterly eye, and her kind but sometimes brutal opinion, lots of credit regarding this painting. There were a few times I thought I had completed this, but like Yoda with his cane whacking Luke's behind, she reminded me just how much more needed to be done. Even last night I had thought this was finished, but she told me to sleep on it and to look at it again Sunday morning and see if I still thought it was done. After another hour of reworking the sky and getting another layer of clouds in, it finally looked finished. It should be interesting to hear what my colleagues say at the critique, and there is the possibility of working even more clouds into the piece. I find that letting go of my ego and pride, and accepting kind advice from people has been the absolute best thing I could possibly do in order to grow as an artist. For now though, I'll call it finished.

As far as the title is concerned, the painting is based on another photo I took a short while back, which was a completely happy accident where both an enormous turkey vulture and a small plane were both in my viewfinder when I took the shot, which was above a street near to where I live. The photo was different though, in that both the plane and the vulture looked as if they were on the same level in the sky, since they appeared as silhouettes. It's the same exact vulture who was the subject of another large, square-format painting I completed at the end of my first graduate painting class, which ended last winter. Ironically, my wife and I just got back from a walk around town, and upon returning, the sky had several large turkey vultures above us, and what looked to be that same, little yellow plane flying around above them.

I included two photos because the top one was taken with my Canon Elph, which has a much better resolution, while the second shot was taken with my I-phone, which was much truer to the actual color of the piece. What I really need to do is simply dust off the ol' Rebel, which has been sorely neglected, and use that camera to retake shots of all of my recent paintings. Perhaps this summer when I actually have some time to breathe.