HJA Residency Day 8

Thoughts on Gouache

Aaaargh, Gouache!

Thoughts on Gouache

This morning is my last studio session for this stint of the residency. Although I am not satisfied with the result of working this painting/sketch for 8 mornings, I am satisfied with the effort. I felt that the struggle with the materials oftentimes dominated the process, but it also allowed me to experiment more than I may have if I had been using materials I felt more comfortable manipulating. Never feeling satisfied allowed me to obliterate parts of the painting that needed obliterating more readily. I wasn’t attached to anything. That’s usually a positive thing because it’s easy to get hung up on a particular aspect of a piece because you like it. You keep it when it isn’t serving the painting as a whole.

This morning I mentally committed to try at least one more foray into gouache, but I plan approach it in a far different way than I had in this one. With this painting, in a roundabout way, I confirmed what I had thought about these bark beetle galleries. I want to see them isolated from their material source, the wood. I started to do that more with this painting as I toned down the busyness of the background. Now I want to see what it would look like to eliminate the background entirely. I have chosen to try this with gouache because I find it to be better medium to draw with rather than to paint. I found it so cumbersome to try to paint with that I will not be tempted to create a ‘painting.’ I can more easily keep in minimal and that’s what I’m going for.

The reason I want to isolate the beetle galleries is because the more I studied them, the more I came to see them as a form of text that we don’t know how to read. We can recognize it for what it is, but we can’t interpret it. The beetles’ line work is like an intentional, elaborate graffiti drawing on a log. It’s an epic poem written throughout the forest with every piece being at the same time, a continuation of one that came before it and a unique beginning and conclusion simultaneously. It is, as Pascal said of nature, ‘…an infinite sphere, whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.’

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