Religious Maze

The third abstract painting from
the Line & Color series

Roland’s journal entries and photos detailing his aesthetic and painterly objectives, observations and summations regarding creating this painting.

Oil on Canvas: 16 x 20 in

Artist's Journal

Start: July 29, 2022
Finish: August 1, 2022

16 x 20 inches oil on cotton canvas

The canvas was primed with acrylic gesso tinted with brown latex house paint.

This is the first painting where I start giving myself specific objectives/goals. Working out ahead of time what directions I want to go for my finished result. Remembering the goals and checking them as I go and against the finished product will be a very good reality check.

Initial Goals:

  1. Have sections of the painting that come forward or go back depending on their color.
  2. Use expressive brush strokes.
  3. Avoid symbolism in the shapes. I tend to draw lines as symbols or I at least think of them as symbols, not necessarily a bad thing,  but I think it would make the painting more complicated which I want to avoid.
  4. Don’t paint in cookie cutter mode, mindlessly filling in a space because that’s the color I have on my brush etc.
  5. Be be visually mindful as I apply paint.
  6. Keep a simple pallet.
  7. Create a painting from a charcoal sketch.
  8. Create a loose boarder around the edge of the piece.
  9. Have more open spaces than previous pieces of this series.

Initial Charcoal Drawing with Diffused Lines

First photo of Religious Maze

As with others in this series I started with a vine charcoal drawing, this time erasing many efforts which I thought were haphazard and random. I decided not draw just any gesture design that comes to me but put more effort and thought into the sketch. I wanted a composition I felt was good. 

I rubbed and diffused some of the charcoal lines with a cloth which lost all of their sharpness and ended up doing it to all the lines because I liked the look of it.

Reoccurring motifs and Stability

Second photo of Religious Maze

I am making an effort to have larger spaces in the drawing for more breathing room from the energetic line movement. Also I’m trying to have rounds shapes as a reoccurring motif among fairly straight and angular lines. 

For stability I have sort of a horizon line on the bottom a quarter way up and mountain peaks or triangles higher up on the left side.

I have painted over most of the charcoal lines with gray. 

Receding and Coming Forward

Third photo of Religious Maze

I am trying to make the left side recede with the cooler dark blue vertical lines on the top left. The middle I am using a warmer gray line and warmer colors. The right side I’m not sure if I will use cooler or warmer colors. All the colors are muted, not much saturation, from a limited pallet following my goals.

Pilgrims on a Journey

Fourth photo of Religious Maze

To me the painting has religious quality. Pilgrims on a journey. Not my intent.  On the top left, the round shapes I think of as heads of figures and in the middle there is a cross at the top and below that cross, down on the bottom there are two more. I will most likely lose the one on the top, which will make the two below unimportant.

I added color shapes behind the “figures” in the top left which gives them more presence lessening the strong pull of the the dark horizonal (horizon) line below it in the bottom half.

During this session I tried to get background colors painted in.

Cubism Tendencies

Fifth photo of Religious Maze

The upper left hand blue line work was too dark for me drawing too much attention so I brought the value down and I realized that I wanted all of the line work to have the same tone. My reasoning for this aesthetic choice is that I wanted the piece to be easily read from all points. Meaning not having one area jump out too strongly. This may flatten the piece some what, and that’s fine. I’m at the stage now where I just want to finish it and move on to my next piece.

I am applying the paint thinly and I would say timidly, partly because I am being economical with the paint. Penny wise pound foolish I think. When I apply the paint the first stroke is fresh and vibrant and I wish that I could continue that freshness but I don’t have that skill level, yet. I think if I get close to this approach I would be using much more paint and would be much more confident where and when I apply paint. In the perfect painting session each first stroke would be the last. My approach now has been as a beginner painter. Putting down thin layers until I’m comfortable with the color scheme then painting the area again with the final color. I’m losing freshness that I described because I’m not using the exact color again because the moment has moved on and cannot be repeated as when I first lay down that first color I liked so much.



Religious Maze: Part of the Line & Color Series

I do like to play with perspective in these lined abstract drawings/paintings . Giving the viewer more than one way to visualize the three dimensional illusion that the painting offers. I am thinking this is more of a cubist approach which is fine but I need to own it and realize that’s what I’m doing. Control it. Do it when I want to do it or not.

In my opinion this painting has two main elements, the line work and the color in between the line work. The lines are thicker than the previous pieces and they are more muted which makes the piece appear not as colorful. I could talk a long time regarding all the sections of the piece but I will mention the upper left behind the blue figures I feel is distinctive, and I spent a bit time making it so, hopefully for the better. The piece wants strong lighting to look it’s best. In general I’m happy with a piece I just need to sign it.

Goals Analyized

Goal Retrospective

  1. Have sections of the painting that come forward or go back depending on their color. I think there are sections coming forward back because of color temperature. That movement could have been more dramatic but I will say that goal was completed.
  2. Use expressive brush strokes I don’t think I completed this goal. Now I find it difficult to quantify what I meant by expressive brush stroke. In this painting I’ve been creating lines then filling in surrounding areas with color. This approach has been difficult to use expressive brush strokes since the charcoal lines have already set the schema, so to speak, inhibiting the expressive brush strokes of color. The charcoal lines might be applied with more expression. like the first piece of this series.
  3. Avoid symbolism in the forms.  This is hard to quantify but as I’ve already said my previous pieces I create visual objects with three dimensionality which might be thought of as symbolism which I tried to avoid. I think I did not succeed. I think my first piece in this series “Symphonic Lines Held in Check” avoids symbolism. My title “Religious Maze” calls out for symbolism. But that is what I felt the piece looked like.
  4. Don’t paint in cookie cutter mode. I can’t say that I did not do some cookie cutter painting. I think it’s hard to avoid but I was aware as I painted. Sometimes you just need to fill in a space and you are necessarily inspirated at the time. But I do think it’s something I always want to be aware of as I paint.
  5. Be visually mindful as I paint. I think I succeeded for the most part. I also think the more you do it the  better you will get until it becomes habit. It may be one of the essences, at least for me, of painting. This thought might go hand in hand with Goal: 4, not being in cookie cutter mode.
  6. Create a painting from a charcoal sketch. Succeeded.
  7. Create a loose boarder around the edge of the piece. Succeeded.
  8. Have more open spaces than previous pieces of this series. I don’t think I did this. To do so I have to change my drawing approach and mindset as I draw.

Dissolve Slide Video of Referenced Photos

Mousing over and off the video, when it is playing,  makes the controls appear or disappear.

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