31 October 2021

"Listen Mack, Don't fuck with Nature!"


Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 2019 ????, oil on canvas board, 25 X 20 cm

This is what happens when I get fed up with a picture and decide to throw in the proverbial towel. In disgust, I take my brush and squish the paint about the surface like bully at school. It helps dispel that feeling of defeat. In this case though I really liked what happened, and was happy with my own disgust. But it rarely works like this.

This must have happened about two years ago. It sort speaks to the mystery of the creative process because although it's hardly a successful little thing, there is something in it I have come to appreciate after not having seen it for two years, like hooking up with an old friend after a fight.

It's weak though because there really isn't an answer to all that pink, and the colour harmony is skewed as a result. There should be a resolution to both the chilly pink and to the cold pale Prussian blue. If I were still at the beach at a certain hour I would quickly find a solution, one certainly found in the colour of the sea to avoid screwing with the sky. 

So, out of curiosity, I thought to go online to look for a colour wheel to see what might work to correct it. Of course, there are a gazillion colour wheels out there, none of which are very precise except from Adobe which I include below. It's pretty interesting because it allows one to find colours one likes, then offers up the means with which to play around  using the many combinations of compliments, tertiaries, etc, etc,,. Maybe  lots of painters work like this but it's a new experience for me.

So I moved the little circle around enough to find this (close) pink below, then clicked on the split-complimentary option. Remarkably, it shows two options of the compliment, one on the warmer side, the other on the cooler. But both are 'married' (because they now are a mixed couple!) The cool option resembles the classic Veronese Green one finds in the Art store while the other one, a lovely warm yellow green is easily made on the palette while working. 

The beauty of working out in Nature is that it always shows the painter ALL of his/her options regarding colour. (no need for Adobe!) And Nature also provides a complete set of instructions when the painter opens his/her own optic senses to look at the motif as a whole unit. Like in Nature, as in the Painting world, everything is connected, especially colours, and even if they are on the opposite side of the colour wheel. And Nature will always confirm this to the painter. 

So the entire surface of my own small study needs a bit of both pink and green mixed into it in order to fully harmonise the image as a whole and give it a final resolution. And this resolution is widespread in many successful creative endeavours. 

For instance, in music (in the West) from Bach to Blues, Satie to Stravinsky; musical expression (after taking us on a melodic voyage) most always finds a resolution back to its Tonic, or Root base. 

Even Schoenberg's great piano works found resolution at the very end of the piece though his melodic illogic confounded the public early on. So perhaps the end of the musical piece is for the painter, the whole totality of the painting surface as it connects each millimetre together like a vast oriental rug. Music is a linear activity unlike that of seeing a picture which hits one in the gut all at once, for good or ill, or maybe just indifference, which is worst. (More to be revealed about this interesting subject)     

But the old formula, ii V I is a given in Western tonality, And in the world of painting it is no different. From Indian miniatures to the Fauves and to Picasso, one of the integral qualities of a successful painting is colour. Another is Form (but for another day) 

But all this organisation needs to be done at the outset of a painting. It is almost impossible to 'add on colours' in order to repair a faulty colour harmony already programmed in its own particular and original DNA. It can be done, (of course) but then it becomes a VERY different painting altogether though not inferior. It's really hard to do. The Dutch did this sort of thing perfectly well in the 'perfect 18th century', but then, they were masters at the craft of Painting. Their idea of perfection was a different beast than ours today, thankfully.

Perhaps cosmetic surgery is an apt analogy to Painting. When you change the chin line, you will need to also lift everything else as a result. A little botox here means a little more botox down there, ad infinitum,, 

The lesson? As we say in the Bronx:

"Listen Mack, Don't fuck with Nature!"


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