Diving into a new piece

I woke up today itching to work in the studio, but with no idea what the next piece would be. I’d programmed myself to roll through the contact sheets of photos in my dreams the night before. I thought I was primed and ready to just pick something out and it did not work that way. I’ve had to give myself permission to break some of the rules I set up for myself at the start of this adventure.

Rule 1: Don’t use Photoshop to manipulate images. But then over the past year I have gradually allowed myself to do different things and test it out. Nothing insane or reality altering. Merely connect two photos, overlap, or play with transparency of the materials. I think it was the photoshoot I worked on back in May that really set me off. It was the site of the above two photos stitched together. This spot gives to me often and also is a bitchy mistress. Like today I went to check it out before getting something printed. Damned advertisers have started doing these blanket campaigns of half whit quotes and fuzzy images. They take the entire space. Normally the cover everything and people can remove their ads to reveal more interesting things below. This time however, they removed all the other ads and threw them to the ground in piles before putting up their own. Scorch and burn. Made me so mad. I wanted to pick up all the scraps, put them into my bag, and reconstruct them in my studio. I had too much crap on the list to dive into another project.

This is where I started from. It did not come out in my dreams, so the result was that when I saw it in the contact sheet I felt it was for the first time. It would be the perfect follow up if not for that one flaw. I really need to break patterns in order to enjoy the work. Doing a series can take me a year because I lose interest in the continuity and then it gets painful. Not fun for me. Not my best work. I learn from my patterns (pun intended) and I move forward a touch wiser. I hope. That is my delusion. Let’s rest that one there.

In the spirit of exploration, I then started to open some of the images I had been dreaming about. Now at times I will stamp out some text because I find text distracting. In my mind when I see text I ask “what is the creator directing us to understand here?” So that same thing drives me to now use Photoshop to edit text out. Yes, it is highly likely I can do the same on the surface. I have done it many times. However, the issue is the density of paint required to do that also creates dominant elements in the

composition. That can dramatically modify the intent of an image. Some times for the better and some times for the worse. Practically speaking it is a waste of materials. Since it is difficult and almost impossible to get Sennelier oil pastels here in Mexico City, that means I have to find ways to preserve my stock of pigments.

That lead me to allowing some modifications of the original raw photos. In the one to the left of here, I needed to see it on paper at large scale because I could not tell where the focal point was. After seeing the print I realized it is the higher contrast shadows of the paper edge. My assumption is the dancers would be more if focus but they were quite fuzzy. I can resolve that in the painting for certain, but we go back to the previous thought about labor and materials. I wasn’t sure that was what I needed to challenge myself with in the moment. Glad I had this back up image prepared.

Here I combined two images almost side by side using the ripped paper moon shape as the dividing point. I like the story it makes me tell, but at the same time I was a tad annoyed by all the face real-estate. I mean that’s a lot of face to work on and it doesn’t sing to me. What is it? I kept thinking about it and decided I like the moon shape. I wanted to remove everything to the right, but then I started using the eraser on his face. Removed the face and the shape is far more interesting. Now I could see all these circular shapes and wanted to play. That is where the next version came from and the one I am working with.

I think some  of the editing is obvious, but I am less concerned about that since I know the process will resolve the issues. Sloppiness creates some opportunities and the abstractions are what create moments. Moments being – those moments where paints interact with one another and create a universe in a stroke. A moment to rest your eyes and you can feel the hand of the artist. Pure senses. Painterly moments. One of the things I love about blending oil pastels with say inks.


Originals, prints, and commissions at ChromaticExplorer.com or ContemporaryQueerArt.com 
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