Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Friday, May 25, 2012


A Long Afternoon, 36 x 36, oil on linen

Slowly but surely, my journey into abstraction is becoming familiar. I'm starting to feel at home slinging paint around in unpredictable ways. Getting to know my inner abstract painter better.

This is another painting which, like Going Home and Time and Again, was originally created for my solo show a couple of years ago. Below is what it looked like then;

As you can see, it's a lot more descriptive, and even has a hint of narrative. Many people have used the adjective Hopperesque when they saw this painting. It certainly has that mood, which I still like. 

However, as my focus has shifted to less literal interpretation of a "scene", I could no longer leave the painting alone. It was just begging me to take it to new and unchartered (by me, anyway) realms of abstraction. 

I started out by putting more paint on top of it, essentially repainting the same thing as what was there, just so I can work wet on wet rather than wet on dry. The reason is that my main concern was to integrate shapes and play with edges of adjacent shapes. Can't do that very well on a dry surface, so it had to have fresh paint all over the place. 

As I progressed, a nagging thought came to me; it's the same problem I had on Going Home and Time and Again; too many statements. The top half with the compelling cast shadow patterns, and the bottom half with the Hopperesque narrative. I was trying tell two stories in one poem, and it wasn't working. Having two stories just meant that the impact of the painting was lessened by half.  So after much bellyaching, I chose the top half as my story, and obscured the bottom part in the shadow.

In doing all this, I continuously tried to loosen things up and tried to put down notes that had nothing to do with the description of the "thing" I was painting. It's a fairly large canvas so when it's shrunk down to the size that I now see it on my monitor, it still looks too tight. But I'm done with this one. I did what I set out to do, and I'm happy with it. The physical quality of the paint surfaces doesn't translate in a photo, which is too bad because that's where a lot of the magic happens.

I have a few new pieces (that is to say, not reincarnations of previous pieces) which are almost done and I'll share them soon - I'm struggling though. Abstraction may be becoming more familiar territory, but flying without a net is still freakin' hard!


  1. I like your progression Terry, and it is making me reevaluate my work too in the same time. I really like the repainted version. It is stronger in statement, and most of all visually more dynamic with out all the extra elements of the previous one. To paraphrase the words of my late life drawing teacher Jerry Zeldin, "It is what you leave out that is more important, not what you put in"

  2. Terry, you're a brave, brave person to take a successful finished painting and rework it to express the message in the style in which you're presently working. Well, you succeeded beautifully! I loved the original, but seeing the current one and reading your well-spoken rationale and about the specific changes you made I am very, very impressed. The shapes are dynamic! The shadows are energetic! It's marvelous! I need to be brave like you and create another life for some of my previous panels. Well done!

  3. I love this! Just wondered, when you rework an old painting, do you sand it first to help adhere the new paint to the old?

  4. I do think that the angled shadow shapes are the more interesting story. I did like the earlier version, but since my favorite stuff isn't of the "all the leaves on the tree" type of thing, I like the later rendition much better.

  5. These have been such interesting posts Terry! I really like the direction your work is taking and it's been helpful to see/read your thought process.

    FYI - the links to your website are not working from the blog. It says "missing locator" on all the pages.

  6. Love hearing the "story" behind the creation of your pieces. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and intentions in painting these gorgeous scenes.

  7. me gusta ese contraste entre el blanco matizado por las sombras y el ocre de los locales. enhorabuena.

  8. Your work is fantastic .....I dig that repaint , it's like you took already good painting and made it into a real expressive great work of art ....I could look at the beauty in you decision making for hours

    Your definately a artist I would love to learn from ....I've been attending art school over here in oz , Classical fine art just had my first anotomical drawing in exhibit over this way , but one day would like to look at travalling over to the states !