This is the tenth installment from the series of posts that will describe my thoughts and technical insights from selected works included in our newly released book, “Not Far from Home”….Enjoy!
As I assess the works of the artists that have had the greatest impact on my development, one common denominator they share is the noted variety in the surface quality of their canvases. Their technique wasn’t just “variety for varieties sake” in brushwork, but rather a calculated means of creating dimension, providing balance, and achieving the greatest luminosity that the paint film can provide.
Early on in my studies, I was enamored by the thick rich brushstrokes of many of the broad brush painters. The temptation was to apply those same qualities to my own work but without the knowledge of where those strokes belonged. I was copying the technique without the understanding of what the dimension of their stroke was accomplishing. Along the way, a good friend shared the familiar proverb, “Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise men of old. Seek what they sought.” What this meant to me was that as I was studying the subject from life, I needed to look at the given visual textures and only employ the technique that would best represent what I was seeing. Not the other way around, where I would impose the technique I saw in others work onto the subject, often violating the respective textural accuracy. To say it again, the textural brushwork only belongs where you are seeing texture on the subject. THIS IS HUGE and seems so obvious, but it is a common stumbling block.
This principal holds true for many techniques, not just the broad brush enthusiasts. Issac Levitan’s glassy skies offer a terrific foil to the impasto trees and foregrounds, Alma Tadema’s textural drapery is a beautiful contrast to the silken marble surfaces and Nicolai Fechin’s pearlescent skin texture and tone are an amazing contrast to the peripheral elements of hair and fabric, to name a few.
This painting, “Jennifer”, featured in great detail in “Not Far from Home”, proved successful as I began to see and understand the beauty of this concept. Keep Squinting!!!
For more info on “Not Far from Home”, click book. Thanks!