Thursday, October 25, 2012

Messy Surfaces

-By Donato

Joan of Arc-On the Field   detail   2012  Donato
One of the major changes I have gone through in how I paint is in the willingness to make mistakes in my paintings and then find a way to correct them.  It becomes a game of chase, seeking out the right value, color and edges from the 'incorrect' mass in the painting, forming it back into submission as I seek the perfection of form and atmospheric effects I see in my minds eye.  Thus rather than attempting to create a perfect stroke in the direct application of the paint, I now prefer the game of chance as I seek resolution out of additional marks into a mess of pre-existing color and paint. This is closer to an act of playing and discovery and less one of knowing.

This change has not been a conscious shift, but rather an evolution in the relationship to my art.  Before, I was a creator, delivering realizations of the unknown to my audience to dazzle them with special effects of surfaces or renderings of the surreal.  But now I am spending more time thinking about what these images mean to me.  Why am I am painting?  What am I painting? These issues have reassessed how I relate to a painting as a physical object, and increased my fascination in the surface quality of the paint.

I find a complex surface an intriguing part of the visual art experience, increasing the time I spend engaged with a work of art.  Is that a red-brown I see in the blue sky?  A flash of brilliant yellow on a cheek?  My assumptions about what color is and how I need to control it are challenged as I find more visceral interactions grounding my artistic experiences.  My works are getting messier as objects within the visual field merge together, becoming less iconic and individually defined from their surrounding elements.

I cannot say why this change is occurring, but only that it is opening new doors on how I am interpreting my subjects.  I am driven less by the need to describe my forms, and more the need to present how they feel.  It is a wonderful way to begin another phase of my career with the human figure.

I hope you enjoy the journey with me.

Joan of Arc-On the Field   detail   2012  Donato

Vincent Desiderio    Boating Party    2010

Bastien Lepage    The Wood Gatherer   detail

Jusepe de Ribera   detail


  1. I learned that you have to make mistakes to see mistakes. Sort of commit and correct.

  2. I've written comments here before, similar to this one I am just about to finish; I can't thank you enough, all of you, for this wonderful blog. When I'm a tad down about my own work, traditional or digital I always, always, cheer up at leas a tad when reading your posts. Thank you!

  3. Bravo for sure--I like this post. How tiresome the "perfect strokes" have become--"playing and discovery" is what I want to see in an artwork.

  4. Are we seeing a sneak peak at a new Joan of Arc painting? Thanks for the great post!

  5. I know painters who say "I don't even pick up a brush until I know EXACTLY what I'm going to paint." I feel like if I know "exactly" what I'm going to paint, then why bother? For me it's the journey. I generally leave at least 30-50 % of any painting I do undecided until I paint. I do it to find out what the finished painting will look like. I like surprises.

    Donato, you're a Living Hero to me. Always inspirational to get a glimpse into how you think!

  6. Thank you for all the comments!

    Allison: Yes this is a new image of Joan of Arc. I am touching up her face this week, and it will be ready for display at IlluxCon in November. I'll be posting it here as a sneak peek!

    Per and Jeff: Thank you for the kind words. It is nice (and intimidating) to know you are watching over my shoulder for the next painting to come out from the studio. I hope to keep you all guessing!

    Best of luck will all your labors...

  7. Thanks Donato! For me that is a sort of a reminder to stay relax and just enjoy what one's doing.I do like the brushwork of the last image of Jusepe de Rebira. I really think that is pretty much like the same with Théodule Ribot (1823-1891)The Martyrdom of St Sebastian.

  8. Wonderful insight, Donato. It's always inspiring to read your thoughts on the painting process, in particular the idea of the "object." The physical process of painting is something that has always appealed to me, the mess, the smell, the feel, and that's the biggest reason that I never took to making digital work. (Even though there are digital artists whose work I love, some of your fellow bloggers included)

    Thanks for the post, and can't wait to see that Joan of Arc painting.

  9. Thanks for the best blog. it was very useful for me.keep sharing such ideas in the future as well. Thanks for giving me the useful information. I think I need it!
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