I always start with an idea, but after the first or second day of work, the painting often flies off in a new direction. When I started Finding the Poetry in Winter, I was aiming for something minimal based on walks at my pond this December, something as subtle as some of Brian Eno’s soundscapes and taking advantage of chance (as John Cage so wisely mastered).
As the work developed, I saw more and more potential for merging painting and drawing. Using a darker, thick ebony pencil I could make a dark line and score through the wet paint, leaving ridges to catch subsequent rolls of thin color. Painted and rolled lines offered wonderful contrast. To keep the lines from being too intentional, I rolled transparent neutral gray tones over the wet lines. The roller smudged and “repeated” the lines in a way I couldn’t predict. The more I layered pencil and paint strokes with rolled glazes, the richer the surface became. As the days of work progressed, the surfaces became more varied and the palimpsests more evocative. I especially like the way this new way of working lets my thought process show through.
Details from the finished painting below, followed by views of the painting in progress.
Despite the bold start, after many glazes, spatter, and rerolls, the image almost disappeared. However, I liked the pencil strokes and ghosts, and the feel of the piece. A little more drama wouldn’t hurt, however. I increased the contrast again, and added more of the roller and pencil drawing.
Day five brought much more drawing after rolling semi-transparent glazes over much of the painting to lighten the mood. It was a day of learning what drawing then over-rolling could do.
By day six, I knew a lot more about drawing with the roller and with pencil, interweaving the direct work with over-rolls of nearly transparent grays. Fun, and wintry, but still not enough surface interest. There is so much that I observe at the pond, and this felt too much like one moment, rather than a summation of all that I had observed during this snowless December/January.