Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

No Progress, But...

So it's been a few weeks since I showed the last incarnation of this painting. I haven't touched it since, except to oil in (to bring the darks back) and take a decent photo.  I updated my photo process and lighting so now I can show you a better representation of this painting.  The photos in the previous posts weren't even close, I'm embarrassed to admit.

Anyway, I've been staring at this thing sitting in my studio for a while now,  and I've been torn between leaving it alone and going in and working it over with more abstraction.  There's something about this stage right now that compels me. It's more representational than my other recent efforts, but it's not quite traditional either.

I am trying to push abstraction in my work, so leaving it alone here seems like I'm not pushing myself, my boundaries. It's too safe. It looks good to me, but it's safe, and that nags at me a little bit.

I wondered if I'm afraid to take risks because I like what I have already. Pushing abstraction, at least in the way I do it, means risking complete destruction.  I typically attack the painting with big sloppy brush, scrapers, rags, and palette knives, obliterating most of it. I can't do it unless I'm willing to part with it.

On the other hand, I've grown pretty used to throwing away perfectly good studies, and have learned much along the way because  I allowed myself to take it beyond the point of no return. Sure, those many ruined pieces could have been sold at an early stage so that's a loss of a lot of money, but what I gained in knowledge and wisdom is incalculable.

I have the earlier studies in charcoal and red chalk, so I'll still have the original information, should I need to re-define the anatomical and gestural information. That's not that big a deal.

I concluded that no, my reluctance to go further is not because of fear. It's just that I really like the painting right now, and I suspect I'm seeing something that speaks to me but I don't know what that is.

So here's what I've decided. I'm going to leave it alone, at least for now, and start a new version based on this, but take that one further down the road of abstraction. I want to do it bigger, too. This one was 12 x 9, and I'm finding it a little too confining.

Next post, I'll share some other recent studies, some of which takes the abstraction thing a bit further than this.


  1. Terry
    I enjoy your posts every time, and this is no exception. I love that I can relate to what you are talking about, that gives me hope. It's funny that I find myself on this same or similar path of abstraction. I'm not sure what happened but I started to find the abstract much more appealing. It seems that as I go along my journey I am continually pulled that way.
    It does come with a lot more risk and that is what I am trying to teach my students. When I started down this path I somehow fell over the edge and can't go back. Anyway, thank you for sharing your thoughts about this. I'm right there with ya, not on your level of course, but in the same direction and that, my friend, is a very good thing.

  2. I love it just as it is too - you can experiment on the next one. Good choice!

    It is so wonderful to hear angst from such an experienced artist (lol). Makes me feel better. I have been totally blown away by some younger artists that combine realism and abstraction - such as Sangram Majumdar and Laini Nemett. It has totally made me want to do my own version (with a kind of a personal philosophy of showing the reality behind the real), but my efforts have been far less than satisfying - so I can relate!

  3. Thanks Randy! Yes, abstraction is my (and apparently yours too) opiate. It's seductive, elusive, mysterious, addictive, frustrating and rewarding. Might as well embrace because there's no turning back!

    'Hope you're doing well~

  4. Hi Dan, and thanks! Angst! haha~ yes, I think when I no longer feel it, it would mean I'm not solving problems, and when that happens, I'll hang it up.

    I really like Sangram's work - I didn't know Laini Nemett, but his work is superb too. So much talent out there...