The Devil’s in the Details

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:

"In Between," 10"x14"

“In Between,” 10″x14″

"Of Two Minds," 9"x18"

“Of Two Minds,” 9″x18″

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:” 

An example of one of David Hockney's "joiners"

An example of one of David Hockney’s “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.


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