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Wednesday, May 26, 2010
The studio is simmering in the heat of summer and the pigments laced in oil and turpentine are cooking at a slow pace on boards and stretched canvases laying about the studio in various stages of finish. I have a weird habit of painting in oils in the summer, maybe it is because years ago I did some plein air painting during the spring and summer months, but no longer do I have the urge to continue that particular painting ritual, or maybe there is just something deep inside of me that will not relinquish the oil paint addiction. I just love to paint and I believe that the medium I use matters little to me, as the process for me is my motivation. Years of painting have melded all the procedures in my mind if not in my work. I work in all of the mediums in an effort to dig new rabbit holes to fall down and research. I tend to paint in a more painterly and less specific style. I believe my style harkens back to my first lessons in oil painting , which were in the impressionistic vein, which I loved at that time. I now tend to like to add a good bit of an edge to my work, which makes is more contemporary to me and my time. I like to use values to achieve this and to give me that bit of mystery in my work. I have of late been revisiting the realm of oil washes, which I find very comfortable since it has a bent toward layering much akin to the water media layering that I so love to paint. I find if I dive in with the washes first I can then progressively,thoughtfully,and slowly, add the layers of opacity leaving me with a rich, other worldly surface that often presents a utopia like satisfaction for me. I do not know how to describe the feeling of adding these layers when you have the aha moment other than you feel a strange and comforting satisfaction that makes you keep going back to the piece and trying to find the how and when the moment actually occurred. I feel a bit like I am out on a limb here; but, I will bet the artists reading this will be able to testify to this feeling. Layering is my comfort zone, perhaps because with layers there is the continual feeling of hope for the next successive layer to pull off the masterpiece or maybe it is the unknown desire to have the ability to keep going and not finish the piece and enjoy the process. I am not sure but in any event it is the mode of operation for me whether in oil, water color, acrylic, gouache and or charcoal. I just seem to desire to have the marks from previous layers to make the piece work. I heard an artist say that every portrait he did was just a series of strokes made to correct the previous bad strokes. I really like that theory and know exactly what he means. It is much like in life we learn from our mistakes and often the scars are more beautiful than the flawless innocence of youth. Time is important in art and life.
The figure remains my main forte at this juncture but now I am working more in the realm of achieving personality in the gesture and face of my figures. I am finding I can paint only the parts of the figure and or face that I want to emphasize and leave the others either off of not detailed at all and the figure still serves the purpose I intended. I strive to say more with less and to give only a connotation of what the figure is about or what my statement will be for the piece. I am always thinking of life and the situations we all deal with and the inevitability of time and the reactions we have to the mundane as well as the tragic in our life spans.
We are not promised an easy life but the way we roll with the punches in our life and the way we nurture others will be the story we leave in our wake. I have often wondered how it would be if there were no tragedies, failures, disappointments and fears in life, my conclusion is that life would be rather dull and uneventful and would not press us to deeper thoughts of why we are here and what this life is all about.
I am working on Kabuki Dreams in the studio now. The history and meaning of Kabuki are rather interesting, if you are so inclined here is a link that briefly gives the meaning: http://japanese.about.com/library/blhiraculture6.htm
I began the painting on canvas covered board. I started the painting process with oil washes of indigo, alizarin, and mars black for the lay in stage. I drew with my brush. I use a liner brush for this step as it gives me a bit of control but not too much. My pigments are very runny and loose at this point to allow for the transparency in places. In the subsequent layers I have added the more opaque pigments such as a bit of cadmium red deep,yellow ochre, raw sienna and white. The addition of opaque pigments on top of the washes gives me the ability to scratch and lift the opaque layer to show bits and pieces of the underlying wash layer, giving the bit of complication that I strive for in my work. I think it is like seeing a glimpse of something, it intrigues the viewer to look deeper. It is amazing how much mileage you can achieve with very few pigments. The whole piece is about hope and regeneration of life, the symbols are common in many of my paintings. The egg and the pearls of wisdom. The figure itself is one out of my imagination, I leave off the details mostly to simply the figure. I have added some shapes that give the look of deep contemplation to the face and the eyes are in shadow to prevent any contact with the viewer, I like this feeling of connectivity without preconception of what the figure maybe trying to say to the viewer.The face of the Kabuki dancers are covered in rice flour and paint to cover their true identity and I found that to be an interesting take for this piece. Identity is the pivotal point of this painting and of most of my paintings that strive to let the viewer enter into the piece and become personally involved. I have left the door open for someone to place themselves in the figure and to feel the empowering emotion of holding that fragile symbolic egg in their hands that could bring hope or could bring destruction and devastation. The pearls of wisdom I employ as symbolism in my work often is there to remind me that no matter how lost I feel the answers are always close by me. I will add more and more layers to the piece or maybe not, I get up each morning and reassess the progress or damage and make my move. I added some layers of pattern in the background this morning...will post later or I may paint them out!
Thank you for reading and I hope you will have a great month!
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Posted by Cathy Hegman at 9:47 AM