This week I’ve been working on a new piece—yet to be titled—based on a photo taken from the top of Dante’s Peak overlooking Death Valley at sunset. It’s large for me—16”x24” image size—and the colors range from the palest blue/pink/lavender sky, golden LA smog, and burnt orange rocks with dark blue shadows. I am trying to incorporate a lot of interesting pictures: suntanned arms and legs will make up most of the rock formations.
I heard an artist say one time that creating good art is about making the right choices. I think another appropriate saying here would be “the devil’s in the details.”
Here’s the rub: I’ve found this new piece very slow going. So slow, in fact, that I had to work on a strip abstract at the same time on my other workbench. I like these “strip abstracts” because the choices I make are not so granular; instead, I find three or four interesting ads in fashion magazines with similar atmospheres and color tones. Then I cut them into ½” strips and arrange them on a grid, alternating between the different images. I can rearrange to my heart’s content, until I latch onto an overall composition that makes sense and that allows for light and dark passages. Here are two examples of my strip abstracts that I think are successful:
I like the irony of this, too. I started making these abstracts after a trip to a Buckhead art gallery where I saw some small pieces made using strips of photographs mounted onto hardboard with 2” returns painted in bright coordinating colors. They were decorative and very pretty, and I thought, “I can do that!” And so I have—in my own fashion. But, after that judge last weekend compared my style in “Midsummer’s Sunset” to David Hockney’s, and I researched more of David Hockney’s body of work, I realized that he, too, used a technique reminiscent of mine. Using a Polaroid camera, Hockney created photo collages which he called “joiners:”
I’m NOT trying to say I’m in the same league as David Hockney, but it’s fun to find a renowned artist who sees the world in a similar way as I do. That’s where the comparison begins and ends.