abstract oil painting

“Get us where we’re going II” 20×20, oil on canvas Buy Now

When I was at the art store not too long ago, canvas was on sale. I bought several 20x20s because I don’t normally use that size and the Goldilocks in me thought it was in the “just right” zone– not too big and not too small. I’ve been thinking of these abstracts based on tiny pieces of representational paintings as pairs. Today’s is round 2 of yesterday’s. Part of me envisions the two hanging together somewhere and part of me sees them as two iterations of the same idea and completely independent from one another. What I’m really interested in is how this process has changed my palette a bit. The larger painting this comes from is very blue but zooming in revealed a micro-palette that when enlarged has a very different feel to it than the dominant color schemes in most of my paintings. It’s also helped me solve a puzzle or two. That’s where the artist and scientist come in.

So often I have to stop myself from thinking too much of paintings as problems to be solved because it leads me into this rigid thinking– there is one best solution instead of a thousand great ones. If you’ve been following my 31 days, you might remember that my day 18 painting was a commission, one I would likely have to rework a bit after showing its first round to the collector. Well, she loved the birds but needed a more vibrant background. She was looking for more color for the, as she described it, “bland” room it would go in. It was the thing that was going to make the room less bland (no pressure!).

I really struggled with how to rework that background. I’d already established with her that she didn’t need a whole lot of gold which is kind of my go-to for those two egrets. She liked the reds I use in a lot of my paintings, so I started by bombarding the background with some overzealous red– a complete disaster. I walked away from it and came back to it today. I had today’s painting staring at me from the shelf where it was drying and thought, okay, this is it! I used the palette I’d used on today’s (it helps that it was already mixed since I’d just finished today’s piece) and, I’m not sure what she will say, but I think it really worked. 

The point is I wouldn’t have had today’s color palette as an option if I hadn’t been experimenting prior to it. Being open to new discoveries and not just one singular answer– I feel like that’s union of science and art I’m really after. Once I finished working on the egrets, I started a peacock painting also inspired by this color palette– can’t wait to show you what’s cooking.