No luck of the draw
As you can see from the attached image, I can paint detail. In fact, I think I do it pretty well. Now, ask me if I like doing it.
This belongs to a current work-in-progress. It is part of a still life that my husband set up . . . nine months ago. No, I have not been working on the cards the whole time. I believe that my general lack of direction in 2009 spilled over into this project. With a new year and a new resolve, I’ll finish this painting, dagnabbit. Plus, I am restless and anxious to work on my next idea. My limited studio space does not allow for multi-tasking.
When my husband presented me with this brain-child last summer, my eyes went directly to those playing cards. The cognitive dissonance that I tried to conceal had me vacillating between suggesting to him the cards be removed and realizing the significance of them to the whole scene. He spent a lot of time setting it up, as well, and I didn’t think it should be for naught. Besides, he pre-empted my objections by reminding me of my ability to work in detail. I decided to forge ahead and worry about that later.
Fast-forward about nine months, and tada! The cards are finished. While part of me was hoping that an errant arrow would find its way into my studio and plunge itself into my canvas, thus relieving me of all obligation to finish this painting, I must say, completing those cards did leave me with a fair amount of satisfaction.
I am now left with another quandry: Do I want to work in such detail moving forward? Yes, I can do it and yes, it can add flavor to the work. If not done correctly, it can be the death of a piece. Regardless, does it need it? Is that the direction I want to take? I am not so sure at this point. While I do love and appreciate Impressionistic work, I strive for more of a Representational style, i.e., realism. Sometimes realism requires detail. All I know is that I do feel bogged down when working at such an intricate level. My fear, outside of there not being enough hours in the day to focus on it (or a sneeze coming on while the brush is on the canvas), is that the feeling and passion of the work may be compromised in the process.
I had an instructor who told me to not draw the tattoo. I understood it to be more of a metaphorical lesson than a literal one. But, just for argument’s sake, what if there was a tattoo? To be consistent with my style of painting, I couldn’t just suggest it—a method that can be just as powerful as capturing every detail—but not for my style. It would look like a cop out. What if the tattoo adds another level to the work, allowing the viewer to be drawn even more deeply into the story? What then?
Until I figure this out, I’ll just avoid playing cards for subject matter. They really are annoying.