Monday, July 7, 2014

Painting Perspectives

The Game II, 2014
gouache on paper 
32 x 40"

I used to hate gouache when I was in art school. It was difficult to get an even coat over large areas, it would dry too fast, and it came in small tubes that did not seem very economical. All of that changed in 2011 when I took a medical leave from my full-time job. All that I had access to was an old gouache paint set and scraps of printmaking paper I had scattered around the house, so I gave it another shot. 
I picked up my paint set and fell in love with a medium that I had misunderstood. Since there wasn't a pressure of a deadline or preconceived notions about what I wanted to make, I was free to play with it and to explore its properties anew. In the two months that I was able to paint, I painted like a child with a new box of crayons.  Suddenly, the quick drying medium was working to my advantage because it allowed me to work on several pieces at a time. Every day I started a new painting and every day I made a mess. I had several paintings scattered about and cups of mirky paint water around me. I would dilute the paint and use it like water color to slowly build up transparent layers. I would dip my brushes in cups of water and run my finger along the bristles to create an overspray of saturated dots on my new work with very little concern for what I was making at the time. 
My color palette changed and I became excited about the possibilities in working with a form of paint that was rich in color and flat in nature. I began to think about pattern, color, shapes and dimensionality. I wanted to try them all out, together. Everything all at the same time, to juxtapose ideas in hopes of achieving a sense of harmony. Today, the properties of gouache have not only allowed me to make larger scale paintings more quickly, but have also introduced new concepts to how I approach a painting. Some areas are neat, some areas are messy. Some areas have a high amount of detail, some are painterly and look unfinished. Some figures are rendered, while the patterns on their clothing remain flat. I have worked through any of the misconceptions that I had when I bought my first set, and I am excited about what I have learned. I try to work on my paintings every moment I am not committed to doing something else, and I am looking forward to developing a new visual language of my very own.