Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Cleave and Heave show

Here are a last few words of advice for Xanthippe Cleavage-Heaver on preparing her show "The Bridges of the Hudson".

By about four months out from the show you should have all twelve paintings going and a hopefully some of them are finished. Now you set them up in your studio where you can look at the lot of them. I have a shelf running the length of my studio for this purpose. I can look at a big group of paintings at once.

I learned how to do this from John Terelac about 25 years ago. He was preparing big shows for the old and now defunct Grand Central Gallery, a very important gallery at the time. I would visit him in his studio and he would have all of the pictures for a show on narrow shelves about the walls of his studio.

Because you can see the whole show, even though unfinished you can make sure they have a common "look" without being repetitive. It will be important to have variety even though the show is a series.

If I work and work on a painting I can get dulled to what it needs. So, I take one down that I think I know what to do with and work on it for a couple of hours. Then I replace it on its shelf and take down another for a few hours. This allows me to work on them "fresh" without getting tied up and spinning my wheels on one particular painting. By the time I return to a painting it is probably dry and that is a nice thing to. If I am "pushing " a painting I like to get sessions on them when they are dry. I often want to throw a unifying glaze over passages or rework an area. To do that, I want to be able to scrape the offending passage down and not have wet paint under my corrections fouling my color.

I am currently working on about eight paintings in rotation and it is a good way to speed up your production. I am faster to make corrections if I haven't worked on a painting for a few days. It is also a good idea to put them on your easel in one of the frames you have already procured and see how they look in a frame.Keep one of the frames of each size for doing this, work on it in the frame and "tune" it a little so that it looks best in the frame. Working on a picture in its frame helps you craft the entire finished product, rather than being surprised at the end by the effect of the painting in its frame.

I sometimes keep a little index card for each painting , or write on a legal pad the steps I need to take to finish each one. If I can, I will get a painter friend into the studio and we will look at the pictures together talking about what the faults of each one are. Then I will produced a checklist for each painting with the necessary corrections. I will actually follow the checklist in order crossing out teach entry as I complete it.


Philip Koch said...

Stape, that is interesting that you write down a "checklist" of steps needed to finish a painting. I do that too.

Oddly I find there are just certain times when a lot of good ideas to resolve problem areas come to me quick and fast. I used to try to remember them all, but inevitably I'd forget some of them. Then I started drawing little thumbnail sized diagrams of the paintings in progress with verbal notes along side them of things that needed changing. It works like a charm for me and has made me a MUCH stronger painter. I've never heard anyone else mention such a system until your comment in today's blogpost.

Deborah Paris said...

Funny, I do that too! The procedure Stape describes is pretty much my usual working method. Because I work indirectly, and things need to dry before I take the next step, the only way to keep things moving is to have between four and eight pieces going at any one time. If I am getting ready for a show, it is more. The break in between gives me some perspective on what needs to be done. I also make a little list for corrections and tweaks I know it needs but because of my technique, have to be done a little later down the road. The notes are really helpful- I am not as likely to forget something I thought of two days prior and also it is sort of a "reset" button when I put the piece back on the easel. said...

Me too! I have a list of corrections and ideas for each painting. BUT I don't seem to be able to work on more than one painting at a time. Sometimes I can work on two but that is not often enough. What I can do is have a nearly finished painting on the wall where I can just look at it as I come into my studio while I am painting another. The little flourishes, corrections and adjustments are made that way to complete the painting.

I am not a fast painter. I think too much.

James Gunter said...

For my studio paintings, a list for tweaks, corrections and steps needed to complete a painting is made right on a preliminary sketch, with circled areas, or arrows pointing to where changes are needed. As the changes are made or steps taken, the notes are scratched off on the sketch. Some of these sketches end up nearly obscured with all the notes, lines and circles scribbled on them. Without the notes, I'm likely to forget steps or changes. Also, I'm less likely to loose a larger sketch in the cluttered jumble I call a studio.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Philip Koch;
I have to be careful to work in an orderly fashion or I can get nothing done.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Deborah Paris;
The pros are weighing in on this one. Seems it is not an uncommon habit.

Stapleton Kearns said...;
I am working on about a half dozen paintings at once. A forced march of creativity.

Stapleton Kearns said...

James Gunter;
That sounds like a good idea too.