Tuesday, March 13, 2012

03.12.2012 ~ vermont before and after

I have a collection of disappointing paintings. These are paintings that I've created and which, for various reasons, didn't work out to my satisfaction. So they're in a stack on the floor of my studio, leaning against the wall, awaiting a new life.

Last week I was finishing up a couple of days of oil painting. The next day I would be leaving on a week-long trip, and I knew that the left-over colors I had mixed on my glass palette probably wouldn't last til my return (paint dries notoriously quickly in my sun-heated studio). So with the extra paint I decided to attack one of the reject paintings and see what would happen. I had no image in mind, let alone an end result — no intention of creating a landscape nor an abstraction. Rather, I just dove in with my paint-loaded palette knife and waited to see what emerged. 
And then — in a matter of moments, really — the paint worked itself into a very satisfying scene! 

Here's the before:
stowe vermont winter, v
— 6 x 6 inches — oil on panel — from the daily painting series
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2010 - 2012
And here's the after:
untitled vermont
— 6 x 6 inches — oil on panel — from the daily painting series
— copyright Dawn Chandler 2012
It's funny, the first version is a much more dynamic composition, with the zigzagging of the brush and fence-line and shadows of the hills. But the second version is more satisfying to me. Though the composition is hardly dynamic, the paint handling is. The first feels like a landscape observed from a distance, with somewhat studied brushstrokes; it feels cold and distant. The second feels like a place that has been experienced on a gut level; there's a feeling of immediacy in the all-over handling of the paint, and a real grounding of place. I especially love how we can see through the trees to flecks of snow further back in the woods. 
If I were to change this new version, I might make the four dominant trees a little less symmetrical: right now there's two brown trees on the left and two white (birch?) trees on the right, all spaced evenly across the mid-ground and all more or less the same size. Boring? Yeah, kinda.... On the other hand, they sort of beg a narrative: Who are these two "couples" and what are they talking about? 
Just the thought of that makes me chuckle.
A couple of details:

Any preference?   


Karen G said...

Oh, Dawn, I don't know! I like both versions, each for their strong points. But, I agree with your assessment that the first looks more studied and the second looks more quickly accomplished. Either way, you amaze me! Keep up the great work!

Dawn Chandler said...

Thanks Karen! I appreciate you taking the time to look, read and respond. ...and encourage!

The Artist's Life Experiment said...

I like the second painting. It is symmetrical, but that dark wall of trees is mysterious. I want to know what is in that forest. I love the energy of the palette knife strokes also. It is so exciting when a painting gets a second life!

Dawn Chandler said...

Thanks T.A.L.E [ <-- wow, did you know that your Blog initials spell that? Kinda cool.] You like the second painting for the very reasons I like it, too.
And indeed -- it's so mighty fine when a painting gets a second life. Though I have had it backfire! Not this time though. :)