Looking back at a year of oil painting

Untitled work in progress, 36″ x 24″, June 20 2017

A year ago today, I went to a neighborhood art store and bought three tubes of oil paint on a whim, and started making oil paintings for the first time in my life. I wrote about that at the time here, about starting from scratch and about some of my thoughts and feelings about oil painting as then a still mostly abstract idea.

Looking back a year later, what started as a little experiment — another likely short-lived hobby to add to my long history of same — has become instead a serious and emotionally valuable part of my life.   Continue reading “Looking back at a year of oil painting”

Five Concentric Wireframe Cubes, step-by-step

I spent the last couple days, in particular too many hours yesterday, working on a new painting, Five Concentric Wireframe Cubes.  I also took a lot of pictures along the way, as I drafted out guidelines on a three foot by two foot canvas and then systematically mixed and laid colors into that drawing.

I tend to share bits and pieces of process on my twitter feed, @joshmillard, but I thought I’d round up these process photos as a blog post.

Five Concentric Wireframe Cubes, oil on canvas, 36″x24″

I’m pleased with the result, and also pretty sore from all the careful freehand edge-making at various 60 degree increments on a large canvas.  Working larger like this introduces new challenges compared to the many square-foot paintings I’ve done in the last couple months.  New complications, but also exciting possibilities.

Blank 36″X24″ canvas with yardstick and reference sketch

One implication of a larger canvas is that the machine-cut stencil process that fits smaller paintings (e.g. Continuity) really well is more difficult to use well.  I have done a couple of larger stencil-driven pieces so far this year — Sierpinski Carpet, Concentric Squares which required four coordinated stencil plates; Conservation of Area which required six — and they came out well, but it was a great deal of extra work to involve the notionally time-saving stencil element.  I’m still working out the balance, there.

But difficulty of coordinating multiple stencil plates aside, FCWC isn’t a great fit for that anyway: the painting is made up of a lot of fields of directly adjacent color, so there’s no negative space gaps for stencil material to define.

It’s also a (relatively) simple design; compared to the two pieces linked above, it has no thin, closely-packed lines, but rather fewer, larger areas made out of (to think of it one way) one or more contiguous unit-inch equilateral triangles. And so drafting it out with rule and pencil was as good a solution as any.

Initial colored pencil sketch on isometric graph paper

The painting started as a sketch, one of several I made the other day on this theme of concentric wireframe cubes.  This one felt most interesting to tackle.   Continue reading “Five Concentric Wireframe Cubes, step-by-step”