Lichtenbergian Goal #1

Lichtenbergian Goal #1: to continue my painting/drawing, which has two avenues at this point, and I’m thinking of adding a third.

First of all is my Field series, which began with a couple of news photos the composition of which I thought would make a good basis for abstract paintings. Those first two were based directly on the photos. Indeed, the first one I actually painted over the photo itself.

The main issue I’m exploring now is how to create these compositions on my own without bogging down in the “figures playing in snow” motif. (That’s exactly what the first two were based on, of course.)

Many of the avenues I’ve tried recently don’t really work, which is the point. Keep exploring until you find something that does. Then the problem is how to use that which works without it becoming cliché. It’s the accursed cycle of creativity.

With the portraiture, I have two problems I need to solve. The first is the ongoing issue of verisimilitude: does what I’ve painted accurately reflect the subject? Can you “tell who it is”? That’s what I was working on fairly assiduously in my sketchbook, until it dawned on me that it did me very little good to be able to draw Jeff’s face if I had then to turn around and use paint to achieve the same goal.

(Which is not to say that the drawing is not critical to the painting. It is: it allows me to see in a more leisurely and forgiving, and cheaper, medium how faces are put together.)

The second issue is that of style. If we assume that in this best of all possible worlds I will end up with a eight-foot long oil painting of the Lichtenbergians standing in the labyrinth, then what do I want it to look like? Caravaggio-like finish? Rembrandt? Renoir? Bacon? Hockney? Something new, readily recognizable as Lylesian even?

What kind of stylistic approach will best achieve my goal, which is to show a group of men who have a certain authority just by dint of having lived? To show the aging of the male body not as a matter of decay but of changing, even growing, powers? Can I even do that?

With the Field series, my plan of attack is to continue working on the pieces I have currently going, i.e., IV and V, then grow from there.

With the ELP, my plan of attack is two-fold: quick stylistic studies, and slower, more layered attempts at verisimilitudinosity.

I foresee two stumbling blocks that my Lichtenbergian self will seize on as excuses not to proceed, and that is that I am already chafing at the size restrictions with the Field series, and at the limitations of gouache as a medium overall. However, I have no room for larger canvases/boards, and I certainly cannot afford to fill them with oils, which have environmental issues of their own.


Oh. The third avenue. I may start exploring collage. That is all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *