Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Plunge Pool"

"Plunge Pool" 14x11 acrylic
As a painter, the things that excite me, both in the studio and in the field, don't register much significance to my non-artist friends. It's nothing new when, after talking with me, someone wanders away muttering, "I always knew Bortz was nuts." I can't really disagree, but I'm quite happy in my little bubble of insanity.
In this painting, "Plunge Pool", I've achieved a couple of things that, in the past, have largely eluded me. I've been doing some experiments trying to get the natural green tones in my work to be more lifelike. I hit on some mixtures that seem to work well in most situations. Surprisingly enough, there is not a drop of "out of the tube" green paint in this piece. It was all worked out with subtle shifts in mixtures of various yellows and blues.
More importantly, there is an impressionistic quality to this piece not really noticeable in my previous work. Not that I haven't tried. Up to this point, most of my efforts toward this effect have come up miserably short. I like painting with bigger brushes. I'm just not very good at it. Smearing and blending big blobs of paint to get a desired look without a bunch of tiny brush strokes intrigues me. I smile every time I pull it off.
There are usually parts of a painting that are my favorites. This piece had several! I like the way the mossy boulders emerge from the background at the top of composition. It's out of character for me not to render a painting right out to the edges of the board. But here, the lack of detail in that area seems to work, allowing the viewers eye to take in the tumbling water without being distracted by unnecessary detail.
Even in the foreground of the painting, I've managed to paint the stream gravel with more of a suggestive technique rather than detailing every tiny stone. This makes me happy.
Is this a new direction for my art? Perhaps. I think there is a balance between "loose and painterly" and "photographic detail" that I'm constantly searching for. I may have found it with this painting. Now the challenge will be to do it again, prooving to myself this was no accident.

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