My last work-in-progress left me a little depressed about my progress. I felt like I was just falling back on my old ways of painting and not challenging myself as an artist. Just putting in time. So I looked around for stuff to inspire me.
I found some interesting paintings in a style called “abstract impressionism.” This style uses short, intense brush strokes instead the larger, bold brushwork of abstract expressionism. This painting is an example of abstract impressionism–if it even IS a painting and not a photo. It looks a lot like a photo to me, but that’s fine.
One thing I noticed when I searched on the term for images was that a lot of photography came up. More and more I’ve gotten interested in abstract photography. I would like to try it, but it’s very difficult to find info about some of the techniques these folks use. They do look very much like paintings to me, and they inspire me. So I collected some images that I know are photos that claim the style abstract impressionism.
I thought okay, I will go try this technique of short, intense brushwork. I messed around and the first thing I noticed was that short brushstrokes call for a palette that is held rather than the heavy glass one off the side on a table, like I have. I had a hand-held wooden palette when I was young, but I hated it. It was too small and uncomfortable and ugly. About a year or so ago I looked over some larger hand-held palettes but decided I didn’t really need one.
Now I think I do, and I bought myself this one, made by a company called New Wave and sold at Jerry’s Artarama. It’s not huge but not too small. It’s made out of wood, but it’s finished, so I don’t have to do that. I hope it will be a good fit, and I know it will help me paint differently. And it’s not ugly.
I also decided that since I am trying to paint more for myself than the expectations of imaginary viewers, that I will paint larger than I have been. I’ve got only one 12 x 12″ canvas left, and some 18 x 24″, a size I used for years. But I just ordered 5 24 x 24″, because that is my favorite size. And I did NOT order the ones with the heavy, thick sides (“gallery wrap”). I ordered canvases with the traditional sides that are 7/8″ deep. To me, the gallery type look and feel overbuilt. I feel like 24 x 24″ is not so big that it does not need a frame, either. A simple frame looks great on that size and protects the canvas. I got five Fredrix Pro Dixie canvases. I really like the Pro Dixie line. The canvas is much more finely woven than the Blick’s Premier canvases I used for years, they don’t have slubs sticking out or worse, gessoed to the canvas, and they are delivered by dependable UPS instead of Fedex, which Blick favors and which would leave my packages in a vacant building or even the alley (I had to quit buying from Blick for that reason). The only issue I ever have with the Pro Dixie canvases is if I paint too flat and fill in too much of the weave with paint. Then the surface can be too slick to accept more paint in a way that will last, and I have to go over it with some rubbing alcohol. But since this style involves more brushwork–and I’ve been trying to get myself to do more brushwork anyhow–I don’t think that will be a problem.
Another thing I noticed was that since I was using thicker paint and broken color (different colors are put right next to each other, like a mosaic, with dabs instead of mixed together on the palette), the color was much more intense. I liked that a lot, even though it consumed much more paint than usual. I will try to work more in that direction.
I’m grateful that I am in a place in my life where I can afford to do this kind of experimentation.