August 21, 2014

Painting With the Girls

Wedding Day Abstract, 16 x 20 " acrylic on canvas board  by Tracy Feldman
 Tuesday,  I had another great painting day with friends.  This time, I painted with "the girls" -- a name given to my neighbor, Nancy, and her granddaughters by her husband and son.    Nancy's grandchildren, Beth and Allie, are 11 and 9 years old.

    They were here for the week, and spent a lot of it filling Nancy's driveway and sidewalk with a wonderful series of vivid chalk drawings.  So I thought they'd enjoying doing some painting with me, and offered to do that if they had time.  Nancy wasn't sure if they could fit it in.  But, when the girls expressed an interest in seeing my abstracts, I suggested that maybe they'd enjoy it if we each could create an abstract painting based on what we'd talked about.

    ​ I assumed the abstract technique that another young painting friend called the "stained glass" technique would be one they'd want to use, so I for my own piece, I'd  already chosen an old piece that meant a lot to me, even if the image didn't quite jell enough for me to share it with my family.  It was a painting I did of my nephew Joel at his wedding to Aparna.  That's why I call the piece, Wedding Day Abstract.  I knew when creating the abstract that I wanted to use a simple blue wash over the portrait to contrast with the warm underpainting.  So I placed the tape in ways to let both Joe's and Aparna's faces and wedding outfits peep through.  But when I was done, I realized that it needed something more.  The values of the two layers were too similar.  Also, while I loved bits of the bride and groom's faces peeping out of the work, I realized that they so drew the eye that the overall composition was lost.  So  I added bright white spatters on top of the piece, and I loved the broader range of values, shapes, and depth that resulted.  Originally, I thought I'd want to have it displayed in the landscape format, but after I signed it, I realized that when I did that the elements of the face were still too prominent, and the spatters were less interesting, so I decided that the best way to display it is it now is (rotated 90 degrees to the right).

    Until I had added the spatters, the girls were less interested in using the "stained glass" technique than I was.   In fact, the first works Beth and Allied produced,  Vibrations and Giggles, used a direct painting approach.  These first pieces are wonderfully vibrant.  I love the glazing technique Beth used to create her work. It allowed hints of the vibrant underpainting to shimmer through the sheer washes of color -- adding such depth, and yes, a vibrational quality to the work.  Allie's Giggles has an almost perfect (75/25%) balance of warms and cools that really make her piece sing.

Vibrations by Beth S, age 11

Giggles by Allie S, age 9
Sunset by Allie S (and Tracy F)

      I thought they'd only do one piece, but after seeing what I was doing using the "stained glass" technique topped by spatters of cool white, they too wanted to do their own versions of a "stained glass" painting.  It was fun looking through some of my old representational paintings to use for the basis of their abstracts.    
A Bit of Everything - by Beth S (and Tracy F)
        I explained how to use the tape to preserve some of the under-image in the lines created by the tape, and basically left them free to do what they wanted to do. It was so neat to see the different ways (from me) that they applied the tape.  In creating her new abstract, Sunset, Allie used the tape to create a closed crescent in the upper right quadrant of her piece. Then, as you can see to the right, Beth put her own stamp on using tape in her work.  Small pieces to create a lovely ladder-like structure off center on the piece.  The linear elements and cool green and reds she chose to use in her over-paintings contrasted wonderfully with the warmer, rounded shapes that dominate the underpainting. And adding the cool splashes of white give a much needed value lift to the work.

     Something that is neat about this painting day is that the girls insisted that their Granny (Nancy) join in the fun.  At first, she seemed a little hesitant because she'd never created a painting before, but an idea, and title, struck her early on, and she created a really neat little abstract that was inspired by trip they'd taken to see our local minor-league baseball team, The Lancaster Barnstormers.  The work is inspired by the image of how the light from the end of game fireworks reflected off the audiences' hair.  A very good first effort indeed.

Girls at the Fireworks by Grammy Nancy

As usual, I'm putting my work, Wedding Day Abstract,  up on my DailyPaintworks Gallery site.  . So, if you are interested, check out the auction for it by clicking here.  I'm afraid that Nancy's, Beth's, and Allie's lovely pieces will stay in their own private collections for now.