motion 12 moves ahead.... by Philip Tarlow

motion 12 before and after the adjustment to the brown triangle on the left

3pm: the dark brown in the triangle on the left was bothering me, so i did some work on it just now & brought it into alignment with the rest of the composition. i've been perusing the catalogue from a major deKooning retrospective we saw at MOMA in 2012.

something he once said:" the desire to make a style is an apology for one's anxiety.... better to make a picture that trembles with anxiety than one that is static because stylistically pure."

ABOVE:    the motion 12 under-drawing at noon, and the same painting at 1:30pm.

the 8/8/11 plein air painting, 16x16" which i'm referring to as i paint today

at work on motion 12, 1pm

1:41 PM: yes, motion 12 was enticingly attractive yesterday & this morning. but we can't get stuck on the under-drawing, can we? so i moved ahead, covering the drawing with a thin coat of warm off-white and drawing/painting into it with oils.  and sure enouch, that under-drawing peeks through enough, oh just enough to provide the mystical magical moving ghost image i was hoping for., surpassing the original 8/8/11 plein air oil i was loosely referring toand revealing a variety of biomorphic suggestive forms produced by a simple but informed twist of the wrist. 

i chose the 16x16 8/8/11 plain air painting you see on the left as my inspiration for motion 12 today.

a different path by Philip Tarlow

                                   motion 12 at 3pm

                                   motion 12 at 3pm

                              DETAIL of motion 12 at 3pm

3 pm: here's the next phase, which i just worked on. the bit on the left seemed too strong, so i wiped it & then went into it with crayons, creating a softer feel. this allows the central tree trunk, which has some beautiful passages, to shine. but it also works better compositionally. i may be done for the day. this new direction was a surprise, which i kind of knew before even setting out for the studio this morning. it's allowing 2 of my strengths to emerge side by side: draftsmanship & the use of oil color on this portrait linen i love so.

                    motion 12 at 1:30 PM













1:36 PM: after spending just 1 day on the under-drawing, rather than the usual 3 or 4, i sprayed the drawing with fixative and began painting in oil. rather than going over the entire drawing & masking it partially, working form an entirely different image based on plein air creek oils, as i've done on the previous motion paintings, i used the same image and started painting into the drawing.


in other words, i have eliminated, for now, the ambiguity  produced by laying one image over an entirely different one. the abstract qualities of this image: aspen stumps some of which have been cut up for firewood (see the photo in yesterdays blog post) lends itself to this different approach. thus far, the graphic elements contained in the mostly grey drawing on the canvas, are juxtaposed with the vibrant siennas & tans of the tree trunks. 

where will this experiment go from here? perhaps later this afternoon i'll take it further. on the other hand, i might let it sit until tomorrow & see how i feel about it then.

looking at a van gogh drawing, starting a new under-drawing by Philip Tarlow

3 PM: i started the under-drawing for motion 12. this time i'm using crayon exclusively. no colored pencil thus far. so it has a bolder look and stands alone as a work unto itself. here are two stages: 1 pm & 3 pm. to be continued tomorrow.

11:47 AM: if i could get to work by 10:30, I'd get a lot more done! lets give that a try tomorrow, shall we?


i opened a book of van gogh drawings from an exhibition we visited at the met in 2005. here's an example of one, rocks and trees, drawn in province, july 6-12, 1888. pay careful attention to the variety, livliness and absolute necessity of each of his marks. this is genius.


i'm about to embark upon a new under-drawing, this one based upon a photo i shot october 15, 2017.

BELOW is a detail of motion 11 and van gogh's drawing side by side. van gogh's drawings have had a profound effect on my mark making. seeing an entire exhibition of his drawings at the met in 2005 knocked me for a loop, and i'm still reeling. the sheer volume; the mastery boggles the mind.

motion 11 resolved? by Philip Tarlow

                                DETAIL of motion 11 at 2pm

2:23 PM: so i did some work on motion 11, especially the upper left. but as you can see, the branch on the right has gained some color as well. i really worked on almost all areas of this painting, adding some rock shapes on the left which echo the ones on the right. i'll give it 24 hours & see how it looks in the morning.





BELOW:     left: yesterdays version, right: todays.

7:49 AM: when she had a look at it for the first time yesterday afternoon, mikela had some doubts about that alizarin crimson under the rock in the center of the composition. i'll confirm this once i'm back in the studio, at around 10 or 10:30am, but i do think it's an essential element. you see a detail of it here on the right.

refining motion 11 by Philip Tarlow

3:32 PM: i just wasn't satisfied with how this painting was evolving, so i turned it 90 degrees and created an entirely new image, which still contains elements of it's former self. it now seems to be singing, but i need to see it in the morning.

did i do away with some cool passages? yes. was that sacrifice for the sake of the overall composition and coherence? i think so. a quick glance at the previous incarnation, below in my 1:53pm post, tells the story i believe. there are some very strong, memorable passages, but for me it just doesn't hold up. the greens on the lower left and center dominate, rendering the more sensitive elements in the central and upper quadrants almost irrelevant. so couldn't i simply have painted over those green passages? sorry, it just doesn't work that way.

now, it's kind of like early guston waxing lyrical, with suggestive, biomorphic shapes: whales, open mouthed shouting humans commingling with rocks, water & branches. this seems to be the direction this motion series is heading, listening to the commands of some invisible painterly goddess. 

1:53 PM: here's the painting as it looked a few moments ago, after revising it over the past few hours. compared with how it looked this morning, it's less cluttered, but it still isn't singing. so i'm going to do more and see if i can let go of any attachment to the plein air gouache i've been working from. i've already placed 2 other plein air gouaches upright on my work table, and will borrow freely from them.

eliminating the branches in the upper right has definitely given the composition more breathing space, but it doesn't exactly know who it is yet.







BELOW: a few details

motion 11 as it looked this morning

a portion of yesterday's palette

12:08 PM: upon entering my studio i cast a glance, that all important glance, at motion 11. too much going on. needs simplification. that's my focus today, as i get a rather late start. my ipod shuffle has presented me with  joplin singing "what good can drinkin' do?" a masterpiece if i ever heard one!

motion 11: the oil painting begins..... by Philip Tarlow

              motion 11 at 3:15 PM following a brief tweak

4:22 PM: i mteade a few last changes before leaving the studio, and photographed the altered painting with my iphone. so this image may not be as accurate as what i normally shoot with my nikon.

this 9/8/17 plein air gouache is my inspiration for motion 11






2:03 PM: this morning i lay the under-drawing down on my newly cleaned work table and began painting. at first sketching in the composition with graphite, then applying oil paint, scraping, blotting, etc.

as expected and planned, elements of the under-drawing are peeking through, adding another, unexpected and unpredictable dimension. a hint of sky here, traces of warm pink patterns there. 

the green shape on the left was some creekside moss, out of which was growing shocking alizrin fingers of leaves, which swizzled and danced in the roaring current.

work will resume tomorrow morning.


                                                                                   at work on motion 11, 2pm

BELOW: the progress of motion 11. yesterday's under-drawing is on the left; middle: the p;ainting at noon; right: and at 2pm.

motion 11 by Philip Tarlow

                          motion 11 at 3pm

2:57 PM: the drawing progressed further. i haven't yet put brush or oil to canvas, and am engrossed at the developing patterns of blues, pinks, and greens emerging from the grey/blue/tan rocks. as long as i'm having fun with the process, the under-drawing will continue using just colored pencils and, occasionally, crayons.

i'm beginning to consider making smaller square canvasses, maybe 6 at first, that are made as one composition. then the buyer can hang them as they were painted, or move them to different positions as they wish. they could then be moved about whenever and in whatever order and however frequently they might desire. personally, i would love that because, lets face it, i get tired of looking at the same composition every day.



                                            DETAILS BELOW

continuing motion 11 under-drawing: roiling the drawing... by Philip Tarlow

                           DETAIL of motion 11 at 4pm

                                       motion 11 at 4 pm

4pm: wrapping up for the day: back from my 1.5 hour break, i continued roilling the drawwing,

rolling and glisendoing across the skateboard canvas to james' velvet whipped cream voice

and throwing words about like colors or whasping wind on a february afternoon up high, high in the mountain air-r-r-. my pencils, scattered like so many stalks, are available on call anywhere anytime.

the rocks, alive with spots of grey and brown, celebrate their transformation. my pencils, trembling, vie for position finger-side, where they convulse in orgasms of tinted pleasure.














at about noon, the under-drawing looked like this. ...continuing work, will update this afternoon. will it remain as a finished piece? we'll see....

1:45PM: taking an hour break to participate in a Zoom session presenting our educational product to a couple of teachers....back to work around 2:30pm MST.

how minor tweaks make a major difference/starting the drawing for "motion 11" by Philip Tarlow

SITE-2-17-18 motion 11 drawing 3-30pm-CROP.jpg

3:38 PM: i stretched a new canvas, using the artfix portrait linen that was delivered yesterday, and began the under-drawing for motion 11. i love when the drawing in colored pencil occupies only a fraction of the 36x36" canvas, and there's lots of white space. dream space, you could call it. it's based upon a photo i shot one day recently on our walk up to the stupa, looking down at the frozen creek, the rocks and branches.

making minor tweaks this morning to motion 10




11:21 AM: this morning upon entering my studio i took a first glance at motion 10. something was off. i called mikela over & we both agreed that the central event in this painting was too central, and left the 2 sides of the canvas looking empty. so i made just a few strokes, on the mid/upper-left and right. that's all it needed, and now the composition works. i've shown this BELOW in the comparative views of yesterday's version (left) and today's.

white as the driven snow.... by Philip Tarlow

1:37 PM: interesting using a plein air gouache as the image i'm drawing from, rather than a plein air oil!

                            DETAIL of motion 10 at 1:30pm

the gouaches have a softer look & feel. they are, in a way, more atmospheric. unexpectedly, they are even more conducive to translation into oil than the oils! fewer hard edges; more sfumato; the subtle blending of colors into one another that the technique of oil painting was originally implemented to achieve all the way back in the 15th century, by van eyck & his cronies!

methinks i'll stop early for the day, let this dry a bit, & pick back up in the morning. my new roll of  quadruple primed french portrait linen just arrived, and i'm anxious to stretch a new canvas for motion 11.

motion 10 at noon, partially covered with off-white oil paint

12:22 PM: i took a break yesterday and am back into it today, with a passion. it's good to know that the new roll of portrait linen is on the truck for delivery today, so that as i work on motion 10, i can prepare the canvas for motion 11

today is WHITE day, when all the colored pencil & oil pastel marks i made over the past week are being partly obscured by off white oil paint, so that i can then paint into the still wet surface with a brand new image, based this time upon a gouache plein air study, rather than an oil. more pics as the day progresses.