Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Back in Black

Black Painting#78, 2009, Oil on Gessoed Paper, 9.5x9.5

So the color abstracts have spawned at least a few new directions for me so far, first it was The Blues and now it's black and white paintings. Or to be more accurate, the Black Paintings, (which I am calling the series) as there is no white paint involved. A mere technicality, I suppose. Clearly these can be called black and white, but whatever. I like the sound of Black Paintings.

Actually working in a monochromatic style is not new to me. In college, as an illustration major, we were often required to work in black and white in order to maximize the ability to work in a wider variety of print media. Publications liked b/w illustrations because they were usually cheaper (not really a plus for the artist, who is still creating a fully realized image, but don't get me started on the inequities of pay for creative types) so it was good to be able to include b/w imagery in our portfolios.

Here are some examples of a piece that I did in college, and one that I did when while I was trying to get work as an illustrator:

Clearly my work was quite representational then, and I used brushes and turpentine to pull the black paint off, and in some cases I also used white paint to bring out the light areas. I seldom mixed the two together though, didn't really care for painting the gray scale, I guess.

I loved working in black and white although I was never entirely pleased with the results. And when I began painting again a few years ago, I simplified this same process when I developed my underpaintings for the landscapes. And even though I was trying to find a way to meld a strong, monochromatic underpainting (I shifted to a red underpainting, black didn't really do what I wanted to accomplish) with color glazes over, I often dreamily considered using black again.

Black Painting#76, 2009, Oil on Gessoed Paper, 5.5x9.5

So to me, going back to the b/w was a natural offshoot of the color abstracts and it finally seems like a good chance to go for it. My own limitations this time around are no brushes and no white paint are to be used as those were two of the elements that always frustrated me most before. And just by virtue of the big shift in imagery I have gone through since college, the subject matter is of course, very different, and more in keeping with what I want to express in my work now.
Black Painting#77, 2009, Oil on Gessoed Paper, 5.5x9.5

I am also using a tool to scratch back into the paint, I do that in the color abstracts too, and in the landscapes and barns as well. The marks were fairly random at first, or they were used to imply windows or doors in the structures. However, they have become a bigger element in the abstracts and even more so in the Black Paintings, I think. I really struggle with the integrity and meaning of each mark, while still trying to keep their random quality. Not sure if I have accomplished that yet, but will keep on with the process. I have to say that I have been quite obsessed with the Black Paintings and am so happy to be back at them.
Black Painting#79, 2009, Oil on Gessoed Paper, 7.5x5.25

I have about five more on the drying rack today which will probably go up on my sales blog soon. And like always, the Black Paintings look SO much better in person than in these jpegs. Every single mark, paint groove and swirl is visible.....


Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying this series. I was just going to comment on the marks in #78 when I continued reading what you have to say about your marks. Very nice.

Anonymous said...

Those two pieces that you did in college are 'spectacular'. you are so talented Tracy!

It blows my mind that you weren't using white. Did you ever sell them? Are they details of large paintings?

The Blacks are a wonder too.

Sherrill, Montreal