That is the question…and the answer today is to share the journey but not the painting, yet.
I began a triptych last weekend and I felt like I had a solid start on it. The middle and right panel seemed to be working well, and I was trying to figure out the left panel which kept giving me problems no matter what I did. My final decision on it Monday night was a disaster and I knew I was busy this week with other work projects and commitments and so I just painted over that disastrous section and left it to dry. Acrylics dry much faster than oils but wet on wet gets thicker and thicker and even if you scrape some of it off, sometimes you just need to let it totally dry to avoid a muddy mess. It can be frustrating to leave a piece in bad shape especially when you know you can’t return to it right away.
When I was finally able to return to the piece on Friday, I realized one of the problems I was having. Most of my surfaces over the years have had a fairly uniform surface and one of the things that I frequently admire in paintings is a variety of paint application. I love a painting that can have very thin almost unfinished areas of paint juxtaposed with heavier, thicker paint, even if it is just in small areas of the canvas. This is something I’ve been playing around with lately, although it is easier to paint over areas and add more paint, than it is to have restraint, which is probably why I am not a watercolor artist. In my triptych the middle and right panel were really thin and loose and actually had an almost watercolor type quality, while the left panel had accumulated a lot more paint. I kept hanging on to the middle and right panels because of their unfinished quality, yet they felt too messy and unfinished for me overall. So it was time to start adding more paint. This definitely was the right move, but I am hoping that perhaps some areas will remain that will still have the thinner more “unfinished” surface and can still work with the overall painting.
At the end of my last session, I got a little too bold with the paint, and so even though I think the painting is headed in the right direction now, I still have that “eek” feeling that I really don’t want to share the painting yet. So in the meantime I will leave you with the photograph that is inspiring this piece, which currently is an obvious photo reference, this being the middle panel of the triptych.