Monday, January 31, 2011

Lessons in Layers

Lessons in Layers

Trees in contrast...nature paints in beauty....

Neither snow, rain, sleet or hail will stop the US Mail or the studio artist.  Our weather has been the complete gamut of extremes.  One never knows what the day will bring.
In the studio the song remains the same, work goes on without regard to the outside world, as it should.  I am revisiting an interesting series entitled Peace Talks.  It is a series that delves into the innermost sanctums of peace and what it takes to achieve it and why it often does not exist. As I grow older, I see more clearly the imbalance and the perpetual struggle for balance that goes on in daily life.  It is this tenuous strain that makes life important; the movement for the positive, the longing for the past or the familiar that keeps us intrigued and glued to the world at large. The world and the fighting lead us to understand and contemplate the peace we long for.

Peace Talk
I began this series with a painting that employed symbols that are familiar in my work and have special meaning to me.  I use symbols to give my work both design and deeper meaning.  Peace Talk is a painting  I have posted before but I will  include it here again to refresh your memory and save you the time of looking it up in an earlier blog. 

Peace Talks
36 x 36
Cathy Hegman

You will notice the obvious references to peace and talk, and the subtle barb wire that gives the idea that maybe the road to peace will not be without its dangers and pain and that maybe it will be about the rights of  territories and enclosures, the lips that are silent.  I really loved this piece and thought it would probably be the only one and that the series would end, and then I painted, Peace Talks II.

 Peace Talks II
48 x 48
Cathy Hegman
This one took a totally different form the design became more complex and more abstracted and geometrical.  I got more involved with the texture of the piece and let they symbols support rather than dominate the painting, and I really liked this one, so much that  I kept it in my studio until a week  ago.    It now for sale Nunnery's Gallery 119 .
 I really thought this would be the last of the Peace Talk paintings till this week.

Stage one this is the part where I fall in love....
I have been painting figures and searching for new ways to paint them, and I usually start all paintings with a loose painterly feeling, I think it hearkens to my love of watercolor and the drips and runs associated with watercolor paintings.   I often fall in love with my paint in the early stages and it is because I love the promise of greatness that lies deep with in the beginning stages in a painting, stages which are usually loose and fresh.  It is shortly after these stages, when the fear and loathing take over, and the fight to pull it off with success begins.  I find this struggle happens in every piece sometimes the finish comes fast and furious but more often than not it comes painfully  slow.  I have grown to expect more from my work than in the past.  Years back if I could just get a likeness to a recognizable subject I was happy, now I have to pull on strings deep in the heart to feel complete in my work and the recognizable aspect is of much less importance.  I have found beauty is truly fleeting and often it is not the most interesting subject to paint, nor the most profound.
The struggle begins with the annihilation of the very parts I loved the most but it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

The covering of all of the wonderful and colorful beginning stages feels like a make or break move and in reality it very well is just that.  The best laid plans often go awry, but it is never lost, it just becomes a new problem to solve.  I often think I am wasting time and paint but this is the part of painting that puts me back at square one and makes me face the reality and presses me to see this with new eyes. This is when the painting goes at a snails pace and marks are made and covered with thoughtful succession in order to form an intricate web of texture that will give new life and meaning to this canvas.  I never leave the original idea of thought, even though I struggle with how to portray it best on the canvas, I constantly remind myself my objective is about Peace Talks and the meaning behind the series.
The problem becomes apparent to me at this stage,the head shapes are too definitive in nature.  I need them to be more ubiquitous in their presentation.   So here comes the hard part.....

I simply painted them out and left only the silhouette and scratched back into them for texture. I am much happier now and I still love them ;but now it is for their anonymity. They are now cohesive with the painting and have a much more general appeal.

I layer many more layers onto the surface of this painting and in turn remove some of  the layers  before I get the linkage in texture and hues that I am striving for in the painting.

detail of texture achieved by adding and subtracting layers and partial layers of pigment.

detail of some of the symbols used in the Peace Talks Series

  Here is the final stage

Peace Talks IV
24 x 30
Cathy Hegman
mixed media on canvas

I know some will read this and wonder why it took so many stages.  Perhaps it could have been completed in less, but I would say  to you, that you have to  live the journey to understand the path that was taken.  There is history in this piece now that did not exist in the earlier stages and it gives credence to the  painting.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and I hope to leave you with peace and hope.  


*All artwork and text included in this blog is copyright protected by Cathy Hegman and should not be reproduced in any form or fashion or used without the written permission of Cathy Hegman. All text and artwork included in this blog are solely the thoughts and original art of the artist, Cathy Hegman, unless otherwise noted, and are meant only to be guidelines and thoughts for others to blog.
*All photography is copyright protected by Thomas Hegman and should not be rep


Alison Nicholls said...

As a watercolorist myself, I loved the first stage of this piece. I thought that as you worked on it, it may lose some of its vitality but by the end I was completely hooked and loved the final stage too! Beautiful work. Can't wait to see more.

Cathy Hegman said...

Thank you Alison! I know exactly what you mean by losing the vitality! Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment! Glad you liked it!

Thomas Hegman said...

Great post, I really like the unfinished frame with the drippy paint. I guess that is what experience in art brings, I probably would have been scared to mess it up and tried to keep it that way and not come up with something so great. Like you said, it's certainly a journey. I really liked how the end painting turned out as well. A very nice addition to the "Peace Talks" series.

Cathy Hegman said...

Thank you Alison and thank you Thomas, I am so glad you enjoyed it and agree it is stronger in the end than in the middle. I often wonder if the jump off the edge will kill it or save it. You never know unless you jump! My favorite instructor once told me that anytime I get timid or afraid I will ruin something to remember to "Damn the torpedoes and go for it", I hear his voice quite often and I still feel he gave me some of the most valuable advice I have ever received from anyone! said...

I am overwhelmed by your powerful painting approach, the imaginative leaps you take.

As a total expressionist myself, I find myself revitalized by your courage and generosity of spirit. Thank you.

Ruth Rifka

Greg Windsor said...

really enjoyed viewing your work and especially like the mixed media way of approaching the subjects...good to see a loose style..thanks greg

Anonymous said...

love the post and of course the artworks, too. they're amazing.
really fell in love with them ;)

layers said...

Hi Cathy, you sent me an email today about my blog.. thank you! You have a very nice blog here as well.. I see you have AWS and NWS signature membership.. me too.. though in the past 5 years or so I have started to move on to acrylic and collage on canvas.. and am not entering many watercolor shows any more.. I used to jury the big shows and travel and teach and have cut back because my work is changing so much.. your work is wonderful by the way.