It’s easy to add something to a painting. It’s even easier to subtract something. If I’m trying to improve composition I try to remove something rather than add something. I also try to rearrange parts of the image and the benefit is that I have the item in the photo, it’s just not in exactly the right place but the light direction is usually OK.
The idea for this post came from reading from Murray Phillips website. His notes are worthwhile reading.
I’ve noticed particularly in backgrounds that once I have an idea of what I want the background to look like I paint it quickly and it often exhibits the reality illusion. This has often been quite surprising; on one painting I just wanted to fill in the background quickly which I did, then went to get tea and when I returned the background just jumped out at me with the reality illusion. My initial explanation was that the background matched closely the mental image of that I was trying to paint. I was surprised at how quickly this background came together and I’m starting to wonder if it’s because it was fractal-like. This particular painting did not turn out well.
Fractals definitely mimic reality and they are surprisingly simple. Painting is certainly not a fractal but it should be able to be done as if it were. Ironic that I’m thinking about making my painting more fractal-like in order to mimic reality, when it’s the fractals themselves that mimic reality. I notice that with some paintings I can fill in large areas very easily and without looking at a photo at all. I think that I have somehow replicated a fractal-like component of the image and am using it to paint whatever area. I don’t know how I do this. I’m trying to work out how best to use this idea but I’m not having much luck. It may be that it’s just not practical as we don’t usually think consciously about fractals; even though we may use them regularly. This is the lion in the grass conjecture but even if we use fractals to spot the lion, they may be ingrained in us at such a basic level that we can’t access them to do something like art.
My Wife and Daughters will be quick to point out that I am not the best person to be writing about this.
There are thousands of ways to describe art. Someone likes my painting but why? The really sad thing is that I have no idea why they like my painting. I listen to their explanation and it makes very little sense to me. I might like the painting because it has a strong reality illusion; the painting exhibits flashes of appearing real. Others might like it because they like colourful paintings. Maybe they like ocean waves and starfish (Seastars). I try to talk about what I felt or wanted to convey while I painted or why I did something with the composition. I try not to use artistic jargon or meaningless phrases. Artist’s statements are a good example of mostly meaningless obfuscation. Here is a site that generates great sounding artist’s statements.
Artist’s statements don’t have to be like this and some artists write very useful and interesting statements. I have trouble writing about my paintings. People don’t always understand what I’m trying to say but they are usually not so intimidated that they don’t ask me what I mean. My paintings don’t mean anything to me. I can talk about how long it took, or how the reality illusion is strong or weak, how the colours were arrived at or what attracted me to the scene, but a meaning escapes me. Why do paintings need to mean anything? I was attracted to the scene and I enjoyed painting it. It may have sat in my attic for the next 40 years but how is that relevant?
A painting is what it is. You like it or you don’t. I liked something in it and I enjoyed painting it. I don’t care how it matches your room decoration.