I begin many paintings simply by wondering what would happen if...and find that there is often, at some point in creating a painting, a suggestion or thought that is outside the original intent of the piece. That suggestion will often drive the rest of the painting process, like a song going through my head that I cannot get rid of. It might begin with a small shape or mark or perhaps the feeling a particular color evokes. This week began with the thought that perhaps I would put gesso on paper and then paint with watercolor over the gesso. I had no other plan than to do that simple thing.
As I began, while the gesso was still wet, I picked up some favorite marking tools and made some gestural lines in the gesso, then impulsively picked up a round plastic container cover and impressed some circles into the gesso. That small event, and those circles that I made, drove the rest of the painting. Suddenly it seemed that every brush stroke I made should compliment those circles in some way. I masked out the circles, then began in watercolor, moved to some fluid acrylics and India ink, then back to watercolor. The result was "Ruth's Field", named for my friend and instructor, Ruth Armitage, because I made a lovely soft edge that crossed the entire sheet and Ruth is always encouraging me to make more soft edges.
The first painting suggests, beyond those circles, perhaps a winter sun and frozen field, a dormancy waiting in the soil for warmer days. I thought the process of painting this enjoyable, so I decided to do another painting based on this concept. Immediately with the first brush strokes, the second painting suggested trees in the way the paint spread across the paper. So I added the single upper circle, this time using the lid as a stamp, then found a smaller stamp for the lower circles. I masked some of the tree shapes and the circles, some of the drips I liked. I decided to reverse the colors. This time I stayed with watercolor entirely. Although the composition is the same, the second piece suggests a much different landscape. I call it "Winter Solstice".