Red Obi, 16 x 20 inches, oil on linen
I was just reading my old posts and noticed that I had never posted this piece! I don't know why I forgot to share this because it was one of those breakthrough pieces for me and I remember being totally excited about it.
I did this... I don't know, may be six or eight months ago, painted from a model. That's worth noting (for me, that is) because I typically only do studies from life, and heavily abstracted, finished paintings are usually done from those studies.
The reason I do it that way is because with a model in front of me, I find it very difficult to get out of the representational frame of mind. I need some mental and psychological distance between the subject and myself to really dig deep into the abstraction thing. Usually.
But somehow I was able to pull this one off, and take it further than I'd ever done in my previous attempts. I spent a lot of time losing and finding and losing again many of the descriptive edges, and consciously making "wrong" edge decisions. By "wrong" I mean breaking the rules of representational painting. You know, like form shadow edges are soft and cast shadow edges are sharp. Or the one about softening edges on forms that turn away from us. Or the one about using sharper edges on the more (conventionally) interesting areas.
For whatever reason, I was able to take more risks on this one, and it paid off. More often than not, when I take big risks with the painting, I end up making a big mess and I fight with it for hours on end only to lose the battle - the painting ends up in the trash. Oh I always learn from the fight, so I am perfectly willing to go into battle, knowing my odds of winning are slim. So on the rare occasion when I do win, like on this painting, I'm really surprised and delighted.
I probably wouldn't find such joy and excitement in it if I won more often. But I do wish it would happen every time!
Red Obi will be exhibited in the California Art Club's 102nd annual Gold Medal Exhibition at the USC Fisher Museum of Art this June. I'll have more on that later, but if you 're in the area, this is a show not to be missed.