Let me start with the persistent questions of authenticity, originality, inspiration, and appropriation I beat myself up with on almost every new painting. They are all versions of “what is the line between inspiration and plagiarism?” AND they all fuel my self-doubt, my impostor syndrome! I don’t know how to be rid of this feeling, especially when I love learning from masters and copying their compositions or techniques… giving credit just doesn’t seem enough.

Take this painting for example… It’s a Richard Diebenkorn composition and I’be been loving my work using what I’ve learned from the Bay Area Figurative Movement artists. I decided I loved this composition for the way the lines are flat on the canvas, but pull off an illusion of depth. I wanted to learn from that, so I started this study. It’s a big one (75cm x 75cm) and a paint-over an old canvas, for texture.

Am I making it original with my own brushing styles; my own colour choices? Maybe, maybe not. I’ll leave that for you to decide. I need to let myself off the hook and really embrace being a life-long-learner… moving forward, I’ll label work as studies. I hope you enjoy them.

After a few experiments with water-colours, which I am still resisting any joy in using, I learned that I should always paint light over dark to increase the sense of depth. In this first wet-on-wet application, I still started with light colours. I’m allowing myself to waste a little more paint to see where the tonal contrast will be, then I’ll paint over with dark bases and build up… well, that’s what I believe I’ll do. my subliminal state always takes over and my instincts deliver new possibilities.

Notice how I’m starting with three tonal pallets here: blue/greens; umber/yellows; and magenta/pinks. I’m resisting a gut instinct to use titanium white and opting for unbleached titanium or parchment whites to mute tones. Its a side note, I’ve been watching Bob Ross and he always uses Titanium white to add vibrance… I’m still trying to understand why several of my teachers suggest Titanium mutes the colours. I guess I’ll have to decide for myself with experimentation.

Another part of this composition that really strikes me is the figure being dominant in the composition, but also abstracted from it. It could be that this will change as I build up blending.

Stay tuned and see…


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