Class Notes: Reworking and Good Design

I like the idea of reworking a loser painting because - well, there is nothing to lose. This little 6"x 12" painting was done at the end of August; Dave Montgomery, Sue McCullough and myself drove up toward LaVeta Pass with the intention of capturing the blooming chamisa (lovely to look at - bad for allergies). The three of us had just been a week painting in Rocky Mountain National Park and felt very sure this humble subject would make for an easy painting day. Ha!
I approached the chamisa landscape as pattern - good idea but poorly executed- and was not happy with the abstract design when I was done. As so often happens when you are "out there" - the view takes over your design sense and the result is a bust.
By the time I got home, after a warm morning, the paint had pretty well set up. When I scraped down the chamisa field shape, the paint came off leaving striated lines that can be seen clearly in the photos below. Disgusted, I tossed the whole thing aside.

About a week later, I took another look at my little panel and wondered if those scrape marks might create a nice background texture.
Technique-y tricks aside (that would be scrape marks), what the painting really needed was a design that worked.
So, using as few strokes of paint as possible, I tried to create a pattern of color that would lead the viewer's eye back through the chamisa field, and create a tension that moved the eye back and forth between the upper left area and the lower right area.

In the end, a little paint or a lot, total redo or a simple tweaking of certain elements, it all comes down to good design. The challenge is to avoid letting the view derail our good design sense.


Judith Greenwood said...

The painting at bottom fairly shouts about good design and interesting underpainting followed by bold brushwork on top. It's exuberance really conveys the look of a field of chamisa in full bloom. -Judith

Coni said...

Thanks Judith.