Different Strokes

This year I set up some pretty good goals for myself. One of the goals was to do 12 pieces of “fine art.” A sub-goal, that I did not post, was to try different styles so I could learn. This post is the result of reaching that goal.

On dark and foggy morning... I took a photo with my cell phone.

On dark and foggy morning… I took a photo with my cell phone.

In the foggy depths of my morning commute to work (walking,) I took several photos. One was a view of a street on the other side of an over pass. It had this ethereal quality to it, like the lights might wink out at any moment, or maybe start moving, like some sort of foxfire torches in a parade. There was very little color and the trees made a very nice dark screen to complete the mood.

Once I had a good moment to look at the photo I took I decided I would paint it. Not just paint it, but try a different style. I had just been reading about Van Gough and thought that a “Starry Night” treatment could work. I did a teeny bit of research on Van Gough’s brush strokes. I wanted the feel but not the look. It still needed to be mine.

The second painting would be in my normal style, with a color treatment to the lights. Streetlight yellow is to boring for me. Blue would be a neat color and I have an awesome blue that looks great when blended with black or white.

Let’s do this!

I really wanted to do both on 2 panels, but I only had 2 that were the same size. I chose to do the Van Gough version on the two panels and mine on the single panel (probably would have been easier to do it the other way around honestly.)

Street Lights.  Lots of motion and vibrancy for such a foggy morning.

Street Lights. Lots of motion and vibrancy for such a foggy morning.

I started with the Van Gough version. I did not expect the intensity that came with the shorter strokes. “More, MoRe, MORE!” was all my brain and body kept shouting at me. I had such a hard time focusing on the strokes. “Faster, FAstER, FASTER!” My heart was racing and my arms were shaking. I had to stop every 10 – 15 minutes to get control of my mind and body. I have a new respect for anyone who paints with short strokes or in pointillism. It is challenging.

In the end it I think the piece looks like Van Gough ran into Seurat. Globs of paint that slide a bit and stop, then jump to the next. I have not officially named it, I am calling it ‘Street Lights’ for now. I am not sure I even like it. It was very challenging to do, and I learned while doing it. I doubt I will do it again though. I did not like the way I felt while I was painting. Frenzied is the best word I can think of to describe the actions. (It affects me even now, as I type. Frenzied words come from my fingers and my heart is racing. Strong stuff.)

Now my style! I like things calm and smooth. I like to relax and meditate over the strokes. I like to have through blends (where appropriate) and things should flow from one area to the next with little interruption and as few bumps as possible. It really reflects my personality and is probably why I had such an extreme reaction to the other style.

Eldritch Lights Nice and clam, a wee bit creepy, and much more like a foggy morning.

Eldritch Lights
Nice and clam, a wee bit creepy, and much more like a foggy morning.

I ended up doing this version (officially named’ Eldritch Lights’) three times. The first time the matte varnish was clumpy and very streaky. Something I have had issues with in the past, but I was hoping a new bottle would resolve the problems. Nope! I painted over it and tried again. I used a semi-gloss varnish on the second one and it cracked around the spots the other varnish streaked and pulled much of the paint away from the thick areas.

Third times a charm!

I stretched a new canvas and started from a clean slate. It may not look like it, but the trees are full of “fiddly bits” that are time consuming to paint. They require lots of concentration and control. 10-15 minutes of work and I had to walk away to relax my arm and mind. I got it done and I will not varnish it until I can find one that will not mess it up.

In the end I learned while on this project and I got 2 paintings out of one photo (and a LONG blog post.)

Thank you for reading and enjoying my work.

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