Saturday, January 27, 2007

depths ~ of despair

Depths (subtitled 'Nefarious Snout Monkey') 16" x 16"

I'm still hacking away at the Primal Landscapes series that I started last May. There will be 12 paintings in four different sizes, three of each. For this third 16" x 16" I decided to think outside the box a little. As often happens with experiments, it created a whole new set of problems.

If I could, I'd remove the grey alligator motif in the middle, as I think it muddies the water a bit (so to speak). It depends on your perspective. If the point of art is to challenge by introducing the unexpected, then it works. From the point of view of pure composition, though -- not so much. Acrylic is a forgiving medium, but not forgiving enough to successfully remove a superimposed figure!

In the spirit of experimentation that got this one going, I decided to 'repaint' the alligator using Photoshop to see if there's any improvement. After all, repainting the figure is something I can do.

The actual painting is actually warmer-toned than this image, but almost impossible to colour correct (a problem I've always had when photographing the colour purple) so the Photoshop blue is not as close in tone to the painting as it is here. I also entertained and rejected other colours. At the end of the day I think I'll stick with the original grey, but it's definitely not set in stone yet.

I would love input from artists and laypersons alike. This one's been a real head-scratcher.


Blogger Caroline said...

Oh I think the alligator is key here - in fact so much so if I were you I'd treat it like a SoulCollage card and do the I am who exercise with it!

I really like it in the original grey!

27/1/07 1:44 p.m.  
Blogger Lori said...

I like the alligator either grey or blue, but I don't care for the wave type line above and below him. Its not awful or anything, it just doesn't thrill me. The little fish to the alligator's right, I think he would look good in front. The painting is looking really cool.

27/1/07 3:00 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Caroline: I knew you'd 'get' what I was trying to do, whether or not it's successful. It's like I said to Greg just today, "The work I do that I like best usually only interests other artists." I was thinking specifically of the tortoise, though the small negative-space landscape drawings are far more popular. Thanks, buddy.

Lori: Oo -- excellent perspective -- and I agree. Unfortunately I'm using a borrowed Pre-Columbian motif (the alligator) and the lines above and below are part of the traditional design. Next time I won't care and I'll change it like you suggested. It didn't even occur to me this time! (Amazing how useful a pair of fresh eyes can be!)

27/1/07 3:13 p.m.  
Blogger Robert Vandenbego said...

Hi! Really beautiful illustrations! Yeahhhh!
Regards ;0)

Robert Vandenbego
Madrid, Spain

27/1/07 5:19 p.m.  
Blogger Bibi said...

Hi Andrea, I actually like the dragon and think the jaws (or lines above & below) work too.

At first I preferred the grey ... the blue popped too much. But now I've looked at it a few times, I quite like the blue. Gives a stronger perspective, IMHO.

27/1/07 6:48 p.m.  
Blogger dinahmow said...

Didn't see this til I'd sent the post-prandial email! First thought was "that's a Mayan(ie foreign) emblem." So I looked again, and could then see that the mix does work. So I went back to earlier works and, taken in series, they are "grabbers." I suggest you run them all again on a single pictures-only post and then ask what viewers think.

27/1/07 7:42 p.m.  
Blogger Bibi said...

ps... I'm back for another peek, and first instinct again, is the grey. For whatever that's worth ;-)

27/1/07 8:42 p.m.  
Anonymous silver said...

Happy to see the Primal Landscape series continuing, especially with a cool image like this one.
I think the alligator fits well with the rest of the painting, particularly in the gray/silvery blue tones. In the Photoshop version, it seems to overpower the other elements. So here's another vote for alligater, yes, gray. :)

27/1/07 9:23 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Robert: Thanks!

Vicki: Thanks for returning for a fresh look. I'm starting to use the 'first impression' model more seriously now as I believe it taps into something pure outside the realm of experience/intellect.

Dinah: This is really valuable for me and after I finish the last 3 (all 24" x 24") I may just take you up on your suggestion!

Silver: In the end, though I've struggled with it, I think you're right. I believe this particular painting adds a new wrinkle to the series as it is a departure and will make me look at the next instalments with a fresher eye.

27/1/07 9:56 p.m.  
Anonymous Detlef said...

Andrea, I don't like the blue version, much prefer the first version. This is really a contextual problem I think. I looked at this in isolation and after having read your post, I think I tended to look for flaws. I then went back and looked at it as part of the whole collection and it all seems fine and in balance with the other pieces.

28/1/07 3:48 a.m.  
Blogger muddy red shoes said...

grey for me...I prefer it dont know why, just do. BTW Andrea I really love your work.

28/1/07 5:49 a.m.  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

The more I see of your work, the more I'm sure you have large doses of African in you. That's a compliment, by the way. :-)

28/1/07 7:30 a.m.  
Blogger carla said...

Andrea -I like it! I am so glad you're continuing the primal landscapes series. It's inspreid and inspirational. I like the grey alligator (not crazy about the photoshopped alligator), but I think it looks somewhat monochromatic against the background, especially where it lightens from the middle to the bottom. I think it creates (at least for me) a bit of compositional balance problem. Perhaps carrying a warmer color into the background area as a gradient would add some more weight and contrast in that mid-lower left area. This has a very different look - more chaotic and spontaneous - but I am sure you labored over it! Well done, my dear:>

28/1/07 9:56 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Detlef: In that case, we'll say no more about it! :)

Sarah: Thanks. One day I'll paint something in your fabulous studio...

Nomad: Compliment welcomed! (I think I have little African in me, too -- and no, I'm not pregnant.)

Carla: Thanks and spontaneous labour -- now there's an interesting idea! :) The actual painting is warmer-toned. I just wish I could photograph purples and catch them properly. I never have this trouble with other colours.

28/1/07 9:52 p.m.  
Blogger Merisi's Vienna For Beginners said...

What a great picture, Andrea!
I couldn't decide which aligator to choose, so I asked my youngest, "my in-house arts expert": definitely the grey (I spell it with an "e", it's prettier - she says).
I noticed that the blue seems to be of a solid color, while the other figures do have different hues, probably on purpose.
Just the opinion of an art lover (with a little help from the young one),

29/1/07 1:48 a.m.  
Blogger susan said...

ok, i am not even going to read the other comments, but i would try painting him in photoshop in red. there is a huge red theme going on there, he is front and center and well, a cool red - with cad highlights. letting the blue (sorry, i don't think the grey fits) underpainting peeking through around the edges, make him the star of the whole show.
man, am i opnionated or WHAT?

29/1/07 5:17 a.m.  
Blogger Frank said...

good! and the picassos are great - thanxs!

29/1/07 7:19 a.m.  
Blogger Alina Chau said...

beautiful, love the loose and randomness feel in the composition, yet everything hold together in balance!!

29/1/07 11:09 a.m.  
Blogger Within Without said...


It's an absolutely gorgeous image, first. And what the hell do I know, but you asked for opinions from lay people, and I'm about as lay me down as they come.

From my limited perspective, if I understand you correctly, you decided the alligator in grey didn't give him the justice on the image he deserved. And I can see that in the first version.

But I think making him blue in the second image makes him TOO obvious.

Is there another tone or colour you could make him that would be a balance between the blue and grey?

If I had to make a choice between the two, I'd say the grey is better and more appealing to me.

But regardless, it's got all of the beauty in it that is a hallmark of yours: bright colours and images and very cool lines that get the soul moving and shaking in a great way.

29/1/07 2:03 p.m.  
Blogger Ces said...

oh it's just me but I like the grey alligator because that's what they are in real life anyway, they lurk and then ambush you and they eat you up!

29/1/07 2:20 p.m.  
Blogger kj said...

andrea, i love what you are trying to create here. after reading carla's comments especially, there's not much i can offer to help out. you are blessed by talented artists who know what they are talking about. and you ARE a talented artist who knows what she is talking about.

so get that aligator to work as you wish. and keep painting.!


29/1/07 7:26 p.m.  
Anonymous Beki said...

I don't think my opinion is worth much in art terms but i prefer the grey alligator :)

31/1/07 1:24 p.m.  
Blogger Cynthia said...

If I had originally seen the blue alligator, your painting would have been seemed totally natural. But, having seen the original, I have to vote for that. Compositionally, it does not bother me one bit. My first impression upon seeing the piece is that there are multiple layers of iconography in your work. This one being the last layer. There is enough going on in the painting that my gaze travels over the entire canvas and doesn't just stop at one point. There's a nice tension between the alligator and the red/orange of the abstracted lobster (or at least that's what it looks like to me if I had to describe it). The red/orange pops out, but the cool gray of the alligator overlapping that image makes it recede. I wouldn't change it personally.

31/1/07 1:29 p.m.  
Blogger Philip said...

This is great - love it.Very different and I love the colour choices.

8/2/07 1:18 a.m.  

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