Sunday, August 12, 2012

Painting Over Painting

24" x 30" oil - painting #3 (the latest version--see #1 and #2 below to see what was covered up)
 I have spent the last few weeks reading:
  • Susan Sontag's "Illness As Metaphor"
  • Susan Sontag's "Regarding the Pain of Others"
  • Charlotte Mullins "Painting People" 
  • James Elkins "Pictures of the Body"
  • Vitamin P2: New Perspectives in Painting
In my last mentor meeting, my mentor mentioned "Why not paint over old paintings and just let the interesting parts show through?" This idea of leaving traces and leaving other imagery exposed was brought up many times during the residency. Now, truthfully, I had rather hoped that I wouldn't need to do that so soon with the thought that the portrait exercises I am working on know...actually "turn out".


24" x 30" oil - painting #1
So, who knew that I would be painting over a painting so soon? I had rather pictured myself doing this in November...thoughts of painting with hot cocoa had come to mind. It's August and I've already painted a stack of forgettable portraits for my mentor to look at on our next visit. No. No need to post those, I can underwhelm him personally at the next meeting. I will, however, post the first of the "Painted Over Portraits".

So, here is the first portrait (#1). I tried to paint a person lying down going in for his MRI. In an effort to not overstate everything, I left the MRI machine as just a drawing done with oil pastel. I turned the entire painting vertically and let it all drip down. And, while it is okay...I still found it a little boring even with my attempt at a new and unusual composition, it just wasn't very exciting.

Therefore, it got set in the "I shall paint over this". MRI days are days in which the patient has to lie down very still and wear a helmet of sorts while loud buzzes (done in different time durations) drone on and on. The person's family gets to either wait in the room with the patient or sit outside. Most people chew their fingernails while they wait, flip through meaningless magazines, mess with their IPhones or pretend to watch the tv. Everyone waiting is just wishing it was over, as I am sure that is what the patient is thinking. I have never personally had an MRI. I sometimes wonder what they would find in there. I think I would rather not know. Ignorance can be bliss.

I then took that painting and decided to paint over it with the person who would be thinking about them over it. I kept the parts I liked and just simply painted over the parts that I found to be visually boring. It ended up looking like this next image (#2). 

24" x 30" oil - painting #2
Well, that image did not really improve it as I had hoped, but I did like the way her arm was made out of the man's hair. And I liked the area of her shoulder blade. Other than those two parts I wasn't very interested in the rest of it. It sort of looked like something I would do for a magazine cover. I happen to love illustration, but I am not wanting my paintings to look like magazine covers, so this will most likely have to get painted over as well. I wonder if I will just gesso over the entire piece and than just frame that.

We all know that Rauschenberg erased DeKooning's work and there are all sorts of interesting conjecture and theories as to what it all means, but, I think it he was onto something. I think if I gessoed over this entire piece right now and "erased" it, it would vastly improve it. But hey..I think I'll just try again and do another painting.

So, here on the top of this posting is attempt #3. As corny as it sounds, I just simply painted how I was feeling. I don't really look like that (I wish my hair would part like that, but it doesn't. My hair sprouts out of my forehead into a strange formation that is reminiscent of a sea anemone). Anyways...I just painted a face and how tired I am. I don't know whose face this is, it's not really mine, but it is how I am feeling. Just plain tired. No, not tired of painting, just tired.

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