I am a compositionalist. I realize that few know what that is. I use the aesthetics of composition to create works of art. The arrangements of Color and form, title of a work, and the characterization of a concept are my tools of composition. I wanted to talk some about my process as It is complicated and direct.
Before I start any oil painting I become a character in its entirety. Normally the generalities of a character spans the series of works, making only minor mental state changes per work.
I start with an idea, a philosophy, an event and draw a line study of a base sigil that encompasses the total idea. The sigil drawing is the concept I wish to express within the painting. I tape the drawing of the sigil composition to the base of my easel and leave it there as I complete the current paintings on the easel. I always have see real paintings in different stages of completion going at once. From that point I look at the line drawing periodically, keeping the intent in mind. When a new canvas is prepared I draw the line sigil on it in pencil making compositional edits as needed. Then I let it sit there on the easel for some time, a day or a few weeks as I think about it. I have other work to do as I think about the new composition. When I have chosen my base color fades I apply a very thin coat of oil-paint giving me a general direction of the transition of color from end to end on the canvas focusing on the form of the sigil drawing. When I am done I leave it alone for as long as is necessary for the rest of the painting and its title to come me. I have had paintings sit dormant for over a year, some only a day, most of my work immediately comes to me. Patience and the ability to make immediate decisions as impulsively as possible as soon as I know them is how I listen to my intuition.
Atop that sigilic color form the entire painting will be engineered one step at a time. Those steps may look as if they are completely like momentary discovery or improvisation, however they are not improvised. I know every step, ever brush stroke, ever form before I apply paint to the canvas. I can lay out each stage of completion of a painting like a deck of cards in my mind. I superimpose, or envision them in front of me and flip through them at will, studying the various stages of completion as I need. Not as if they were there like a vision, but as they are physically there in the real. Clear, precise, and real enough to touch. In that way my work speaks to me and if I listen to it as one listens to a lizard, I am honest within my work as an artist. Listening is about patience, and following directions. As each step in the process is revealed to me, so long as I do not go past that which I already know for certain, my work is successful in revealing its conversation and aesthetically pleasing.
Compositional oil painting is all improvisation in that one can only create a single portion at a time as one follows directions and is engineered as the one step at a time process as complicated simplicity demands patience. Don’t be fooled, my paintings are complete as soon as I know their title. I need only to follow through with the work.
So, that is one portion of my process to creating a work of art in oil paint. I am not sure why I felt like writing this down for myself, but if there is an itch I say scratch it. I am currently working on my seventh study for my Peloponnesian War formal composition, and it is very close to being finished. I have already completed the base sigil work for the new painting, and as I sit here looking at it, studying its edited complexity I realize that my process is simply ritual. I like it.