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The evolution of 'Flight'

I will be exhibiting two new paintings in a group show at the studio collective where I paint.

The show runs June 16 - 19, at Project:Art, 230 Queen Street West, in Toronto. Opening reception is Thursday, June 16, from 6:00 - 9:00 pm.

One of the paintings that will be in the show has gone through several stages from conception to completion, and I thought I'd write about the process of how it evolved along the way.

I started work on Flight in the early days of 2016. The initial inspiration came from Joan Mitchell's painting Fields and Flowers; I had been reading her biography (Joan Mitchell, Lady Painter, A Life, by Patricia Albers), and fell in love with her beautiful brushstrokes and usage of colour in her paintings. I learned Mitchell was eidetic (she relived emotional states in vivid detail) and a synesthete (colour and emotion were one and the same for her).

(Joan Mitchell, above)

My version of the painting (below) - a triptych as well, but with acrylics on different sized panels, initially took on a similar colour composition. I loved the bold blues and yellows on the white background.

I then decided to superimpose some larger shapes and blocks of colour, and play around with the composition a bit.

Some detail shots of the painting - the bottom left corner of the middle panel, and the middle of the right panel:

I was still struggling with the overall composition of the piece. The larger shapes were starting to take it in a new direction, but where was it going? This is when frustration set in, and I had to let go of what I initially thought the painting would look like. With pastel, a palette knife, a brush, and Titanium White, I started to outline sections.

Now it was all blobs of colour, hanging in space. Still not happy with the results, I returned to the painting after setting it aside for a few weeks, and decided to take it in a whole new direction. The first brush stroke of a new colour palette was applied to the middle panel:

After an energetic couple of hours, a new painting emerged from the old. I took charcoal and drew long arcing lines, then continued painting in the new shapes. Some areas I held on to, and can still be recognized (such as the yellow sun in the left panel, the orange mark in the bottom left middle panel, and the detail in the middle left side of the right panel). This is the stage when other artists in the studio started noticing birds in the composition, and the title 'Flight' emerged.

A little more tweaking - I brought out the yellows and oranges a bit more, darkened some areas to contrast with the white - and the final version of Flight was finished.

Some final detail shots:

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