the only thing constant
is change, so the saying goes. Here is another studio picture, taken a few days ago. My panels continue to migrate around day by day, as each one develops and attracts others into its orbit. No, they don't actually do this by themselves, but it does sometimes seem that they have intentions of their own.
People often ask me about the process of making my multiple panel paintings. Do I paint all the panels separately first, then arrange them? Do I have certain formats in mind before I start?
The way it works is not easy to describe. Things are always in flux, changing even as I think I've settled on a course. It's like a big puzzle--the panels are all the pieces, but they fit together in many combinations so there isn't one 'right" answer at all. Add to the puzzle analogy the idea that the pieces themselves undergo major shifts in color or texture as they are developed.
But there are a few things I can share about how I work. One is that I try to keep a variety of panels on hand--not always easy on the budget (but then again I'm not especially frugal when it comes to buying art supplies.) They are a sort of palette of sizes and shapes, analagous to my many tubes of paint. That way I can usually grab what I think might work, get a basic color down in a few minutes and stay with the flow of ideas I'm having about a particular painting.
Of course, instead of a brand new panel, I often choose one that I've already worked on, that already has developed a particular voice in terms of color and texture. I tend to treat whichever painting I'm working on as top dog, entitled to everyone else's bones. In other words, I am quick to steal a panel from some other painting in progress, no matter how well I thought it was working where it was. This approach tends to break up my arrangements on a regular basis, since I usually focus each day on one or two paintings that are different ones from the day before.
Finally, I do sometimes work with a preconceived idea of the format of the painting. This is most true for my Column series, three of which can be seen in the photo above. I love their tall, thin shape, which has the attraction of being unexpected, unusual. Especially given that to some extent, my images refer to the landscape, which is traditionally depicted horizontally. The column format seems to me a very abstract one, relating to geometry and architecture more than the flow of paint, and I enjoy the tension of having both of these forces at work in the same painting.
However even when I set out to do Columns, there will be more than one in progress, because shifting panels back and forth is always part of the process...change is constant until some delicate sense of "right" is acheived and the painting goes off to the woodworking shop to be mounted together. In the end I like to believe that each panel finds its best home, and my job is to stay as open to the many possibilities as I can.