Friday, January 17, 2014

Shape Painter

In trying to get restarted on art, I have often paged and rummaged through my thousands of source photos (always my own), waiting for inspiration.  This time that didn’t work.   I ended up rummaging instead through my tracing paper drawings, which are essentially cartoons for paintings I’ve done in the past four or five years.  The first result was the orange hosta leaf  you might have seen in my  previous post.

This is the second result, and let me tell you, this is a fun discovery. Especially as I’ve often wondered why I was saving all those sheets of used tracing paper.    

Since 2012 when I took Judy Morris’ workshop at Kanuga, her words “I am a shape painter” have echoed in my head.  I have identified with that since then, and have tried  to be conscious of the abstract shapes my images are generating,  even in a representational painting:  I’ve tried  to make them interesting shapes.

For this painting,  I used  a dark red caran d'ache to redraw the image on the back of the tracing paper, then flipped it over onto my stretched w/c paper,  and drew with ball point pen to do the transfer.  Then I did it again on the other side of the tracing paper, thus reversing the image. I overlapped the previous drawing somewhat randomly as I transferred some more shapes.  Before starting to paint,  I used a watercolor pencil, still in a bright color, to emphasize the lines and especially the shapes that interested me – attempting but not succeeding in forgetting what the original image was.  Since all the lines I laid down were water soluble, I was able to  use them or scrub them away if I changed  my mind. I do like how their color informs the whole piece.

I’m still deciding how much I like this one, it may be too gentle and pretty.  I think it needs a temporary frame and a place to hang so I can decide if it’s got adequate. .. oomph. Or something like that. Is it too wishy-washy?


  1. What a neat idea! I think this one is very interesting, and of course I like the background swirls. I think it needs a specific focal point - for me that would be the lower left quadrant - I would punch the reds in that flower.

    1. I do believe you are right, Deb. I'm going to give it a try tomorrow! Thanks!

  2. It's beautiful, Katharine; I love the shapes, positive and negative, and the background too ... and thanks for describing the process.