Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The ugly stage

I'm working on a lizard project for a nice friend of mine. The lizards are rather shy and interestingly so is the painting. What I mean by that is I'm having a small challenge getting the painting to reveal itself to me. They are sitting in their ugly stage at the moment drying and giving me some time to think about the next move. They look a bit like hand puppets at the moment. Though it might not look like it, I do have a direction.

I find some comfort I guess in a first layer, or second layer that isn't so refined. It's what I call the ugly stage. I lay down the deepest or near deepest color I think is underneath all the highlighted detail, be it feathers or fur, or scales. Sometimes it takes 4- 5 sessions before I get to the top layer of highlights and dazzle. Sometimes it takes just a few. When I get to the last passes it's surpising how quickly it all comes together. I think it's because painting the ugly layer gives me a sort of confidence. It's all up from there? I can't quite explain it but I find comfort in picking up a dry "ugly layer" and building beauty on top.


Gail McCormack said...

Hi Mary
That all made sense to me, very often my paintings are shy!
Yes layer upon layer, until it all comes together - you've described it well, sort of like building your painting as you would a house, the foundations have to by laid first and so on and so on...

I'll be looking forward to seeing your finished painting

Mary said...


Thanks so much for posting this. I find this very interesting, as I am sadly not an artist.

Amazing how the finished product comes about. It all seems so effortless from my perspective.

Sorry again that I added to your stress of this project with my bad pictures of them :(

Mary said...

That you got any photos of them at all was a miracle! Gotta love a good challenge! :)