Saturday, May 15

Walking Six Months in the Wrong Direction

Untitled Unfinished 2010 Stephan P. Ferreira
Today I realized a painting left incomplete a half a year ago was worth revisiting. Like walking a few blocks in the wrong direction, reaching a dead end and retracing your steps.

I found a photograph taken (quickly) a few months into the painting. It changed dramatically after taking the snapshot. Then I quite and threw it out.

I remember how throwing it out made me feel decisive. And I remember the shocked look a friend gave when I mentioned this, even without him seeing the painting. That's when I thought about having done something wrong.

Untitled (Conversation) Unfinished State 2009 Stephan P. Ferreira
I found that photo recently. Over seven months since I quit it. Of course everything appears much better scaled down to a few inches. And nostalgia blurs what I remember. And being currently in a fix with my painting aids this too. I think about it more and the painting was actually a third painting on top of the others. The surface had no absorbency left. It was like glass. And I would spend lots of time laboring over my brush marks, scraping them off.

But ultimately I am reminded of some of the ideas I was aiming for.  And I included another photograph of painting mid way (this one I did complete). Maybe I was in the right direction. The idea at the time was to distill the subject down to something I could react to over and over: our dining room. The trouble was that I made this less than honest. I think as I populated the table with suppers - from a few dozen photographs every week - I was lying to myself. It was getting away from me. We never actually had that much food on the table. I had begun with a way of looking at this imagery and instead began trying to make it something I had never seen. It was being manipulated.

But (like the second photo also shows) at that one certain stage I may have been painting it the way I wanted to. I relish some of the bold, flat and decisive shapes I had made. Somewhere I started lying to myself. You could argue things are more articulated. But I think the space behind the figure becomes unclear and reveals impatience.

Lately I have been searching for some sort of honesty in my painting. And instead of finding in it finished paintings, I am finding it in pieces I have abandoned, or completely different pieces of things I had once found successful for other reasons.

I think today I just realized I'd been wandering in the wrong direction. And so I'll turn around a few blocks and start again.

No comments:

Post a Comment