Thirty Barns <--- this link right here!
The link above will take you to a short video slide show of the development of the 30 paintings.
I started the series of thirty barns the first week of November. My aim was two fold- a series of studies to get me focused on some of my painting for this year, and to have a series of small pieces to end the season with an on-line show.
From that stand point, it was very successful. But it was even more successful on another, unexpected level.
The way I work has evolved over time. From my original intentions of being a very direct painter, I have slowly developed a very different approach- applying layers of color, over days, weeks, and often months. The approach has developed as my concerns with painting have changed, but primarily because it allows me to achieve color effects and surface textures that provide the atmosphere I am after. The approach is slow. I find color layers most cleanly when it is wet paint going over dry. Because I love oil paint, not so much acrylic, that requires setting a painting aside at some point so that I don't start mixing wet layers, and end up with mud. But I am my father's son- I work. In order to keep working, I have developed the habit of working on several paintings over the same period of time- often a dozen or more. Occasionally way more. With larger pieces, they are moved around the studio. But with the 30 small paintings I set them on runners on my large studio panel, and they were all there at once. And an unexpected conversation developed.
At the studio each day, it's pretty much Finn, Uly and me. Conversation is, well, not something most would understand. Lots of grunts, growls, and negotiations for a quick break or a bone.
This conversation- with the paintings- was different. A Me, Myself and I, sort of thing, except it was a little like having 30 of me- or variations of me. Talking with one another.
Laying in the first blocks of color is always the most exciting part of a painting, filled with bold movement, bright color, and possibility. Usually by the third or fourth layer- on the third or fourth day- questions start to crop up, and the possibility of doubt sets in. And usually at this point, I have to sit and stew, looking at a piece, debating possibilities, trying to work out a good painting from the initial gram of an idea that got things rolling to begin with.
But with this series, I would put the piece back on the easel, in amongst the rest of the pack. I'd step back, and the change made in the piece would make the whole different. Kind of like a new kid walking onto the playground. The whole dynamic changes, and illuminates each individual. Sometimes the changes in the piece just worked on would initiate something similar in another piece. Or something opposite, Or completely different, just ideas spurred onward. But an ebb and flow developed that seemed to make solutions easier to find. Sometimes. A few were abandoned and replaced with new starts, the initial idea not being strong enough to maintain momentum. Or just lost.
But the whole experience lead to me questioning my work process. It would be valuable to have my large work more exposed during the painting, to be able to see more than one at a time- to be able to bounce the bigger ideas back and forth, so each informs the other.
I'm afraid I need more space.