Friday, February 21, 2014

Within the Rocks and Woods

As many of you that follow my blog or Facebook page know, I have been experimenting lately with starting paintings upside-down. I'm basically painting from a photo reference, flipping it over in photoshop, and painting from the inverted image. The last couple of days I have taken that exercise a step farther. I have been breaking that inverted image into quarters and painting each quarter separately. Sort of a large grid.

I remember seeing some C.W. Mundy paintings about a year ago that were accomplished upside-down. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting C.W., but do have a DVD of his, and follow him on Facebook to try to glean any info about painting that I can. Hopefully I'll get to meet him at First Brush of Spring this year and discuss this process. I hadn't thought about those paintings of his until I recently flipped one over and had a go at it. C.W. was definitely on to something there.

When I tell people that I did a particular painting upside-down I usually get a smirk or smile and a "really?", or a look of complete disconnect. Most folks think it's a gimmick, I do believe. But for me it is far from that. For me, the ability to paint a picture, to create art, is all about seeing as an artist. I don't want to see the symbol of a bunch of flowers, a tree, a rock, house, etc. By symbol I mean that automatic picture in your mind that comes forth when someone mentions an object. Like the little house you first remember drawing as a child. The single gabled roof with chimney, maybe some smoke coming out of it, the tree next to the house with large round shape on top, and the sun with rays sticking out from around it. The sidewalk leading from the door.

I want to see things as shapes and lines. Spots of color and value. And having my reference flipped upside-down helps me to see that. It confuses the left side of my brain and kicks the right side into action. I don't consider myself stupid, I know that the light blue at the bottom of the pic is sky. I know the green things are trees or bunches of grass. But I try to paint only what I see and not what I think it should look like. It's always an exciting process and usually turns out to be a interesting painting. Sometimes good, sometimes not so much so. But always a learning experience.

Within the Rocks and Woods
14" x 11", oil


Retta said...

I'm finding these progress photos of your upside-down exercises totally fascinating.

About 25 yrs ago Betty Edwards wrote a book you might have heard of: Drawing On The Right Side of the Brain. In it, she had some upside-down drawing exercises. I remember thinking there was NO WAY my picture would turn out like anything. But I was surprised at how accurate it was. You are right... it sort of by-passes what we "think" something should look like, and helps us to just see what it REALLY looks like.

Thanks for sharing these exercises.


Very interesting post and great art work !!!
Have a nice weekend !!!