Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? It’s sort of like saying “jumbo shrimp”. However, I found myself painting this way a short while ago. I had just finished painting a small abstract (12″ x 12″) that I called “Breakthrough”. It was a very important piece to me because it was a total departure from my recent work of the last 5 years. I felt I had discovered a new “road” to explore for the next several years. I’m really quite excited about it. After finishing the painting, my only regret was that i wished I had painted “Breakthrough” larger. So I did exactly that. I painted the smaller piece larger and this time I used a 36″ x 36″ canvas. I found the two painting processes to be so different, it was amazing. Hence “Realistic Non-Objective Painting”. The process of painting the original (important word here) piece was my normal method. Take a blank canvas, start putting paint on it, discover interesting shapes, build the work through layering and overpainting (what I call “erasing”). Half of the time I spend sitting in a chair 10′ away, just looking at the work, trying to figure out where to go next. The process is intuitive, deep within the unconscious, fraught with doubt, fear, sometimes self-loathing. It’s all about making decisions regarding composition, color choices, etc, etc. Hopefully, in the end, I have a valid, original work of art that pleases me (and my muse, of course).
The process of painting the larger piece was so different, it startled me. There was none of the previous process at all, no uncertainty at all. Thank goodness, the self-loathing (“I can’t paint”) was gone. I didn’t sit in a chair for hours looking at the work trying to decide what to do next. I used the grid method of enlargement to copy a line drawing of the smaller piece to the larger canvas. I then set about to reproduce the images, colors, tonal values (this was not easy in itself). The painting took me about a quarter of the time to do, and when it was done it was virtually a replica of the smaller “Breakthrough”.
I have painted realistically early in my career and I abandoned it because I found it tedious and lacked the adventure that abstraction provided. Once I had the picture in my mind (either with a photograph that I took, or a posing subject), I knew what I wanted the final work to look like, and the painting process was one of reproducing what was in front of me. To me, it’s all about the act of painting. Abstraction, with all it’s uncertainty, engages me totally. It allows me to satisfy my need to create. It allows me to satisfy my muse, and she’s a very demanding lady.