Friday, August 27, 2010

Miniature show

My friend Mary VanMeter at Water Street Gallery in Petersburg, W.Va., is excited to be organizing a small exhibit of small paintings!

We've engaged in an ongoing, friendly debate over calling the paintings "miniatures."

Inevitably, it seems, we fall into calling them miniatures out of convenience and habit, but I've argued that, technically, I don't think a small painting necessarily equates a miniature painting. To me, a miniature is created when an artist consciously attempts to paint a realistic scene or object in as small a scale as possible.

Much of what I do in small scale isn't so much a matter of attempting to paint as small as possible, but as conveniently and quickly as possible (e.g. my lunchtime paintings).

So are my lunchtime paintings minis? I guess it's up to the viewers to decide?

What do you think? What is the definition of a miniature, and is size the determining factor?

At right is one of the small-scale paintings I did for the show, which will open in October. I'll pass along details when Mary gets everything arranged. The size of the painting is 2 inches by 4 inches, and it's matted in a 4x6 frame. It's one of four little scenes that I completed, which, as a set, complete a larger landscape. So I guess it's part one of a "tetraptych."

The image is a little blurry because I forgot to photograph it before framing. So I shot through the glass with a polarizing lens to neutralize reflections. Sorry!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Finally calling this one finished

After three months (most of which was time spent in my tote) I declare this little iris to be finished (thank goodness). Already sketching out the next one to occupy me during lunch breaks.

After the horrible middle patch where I thought I had lost the painting, I think I recovered fairly well. Unfortunately, the compositional elements which interested me were lost with the failed background. But that's okay. Try, try again.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Saved by scrubbing

Well, I kept working on the background, resorting to some light scrubbing in places, and finally brought it into harmony with the iris. In the areas where I scrubbed, I went back in while the paper was still wet with Thalo Green and some yellow to brighten things. I think the roughened areas now add some texture as well, which helps add interest.

So now I'm down to working on the stem, the beards, and the veining. Boy, this one has been a struggle, but I'm nearly there.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Big change

Well, with the obvious failure of my original background, I got out the darks (Thalo Green and Permanent Rose) and resorted to one of my usual background techniques.

However, because this was an impulse substitution, I find that the iris no longer fits with its surroundings ... mostly because of its color. It's too pink, or something, and the areas where I had continued to darken the iris falls now don't work very well because they are disappearing into the dark background. I need more highlights and contrasts.

It's amazing how my natural tendency to work all over a painting helps avoid these kinds of errors. By naturally balancing tone and value in a comprehensive manner, paintings work better. My unplanned and sudden amendments have thrown this painting into limbo.