Thursday, January 22, 2009
Hexagon Block Portraits (I)
A few years back, I was feeling frustrated about how many of my (abstract) paintings were coming out poorly. The process I was using - layering poured house paint in layers of gradually increasing thickness - made it almost impossible to correct mistakes or salvage a painting that had veered in a direction I became unhappy with. I was upset about the waste of time and materials and I began looking for a more flexible method.
I remembered a toy I played with a child. It was a mosaic of wooden cubes that were painted differently on each side, just like this one. I remembered how much I enjoyed exploring different compositions without having to commit to any of them and how the materials could be reused as many times as I liked.
I decided to create a set of blocks for myself, but with more pictorial versatility than the simple colored blocks I'd played with as a child. I chose a hexagonal prism block because its six sides allow more possible combinations (without painting on more than one side of the block) than a square (possibly the most). I grouped a number of the blocks (each about four inches across, I think) into honey-comb arrangements and painted loose, free-form compositions across them, concentrating on getting a variety of colors and shades as well as some areas of illusory depth. The groups were then dispersed and used as pieces to an open-ended puzzle.
In a few cases I painted not an abstract composition on the grouping, but a realistic self portrait, hoping these recognizable elements might act as binding agents for what I expected would otherwise be very loosely representational pictures.
This was right around the time that my friend Maggie gave me the most amazing art book ever, so with my new toys laid out around me on my rug, I set to work on a series of self portraits.
This is the first one.