|Eowyn and the Lord of the Nazgul, underpainting|
On the other hand, there is perhaps a bit of mystery in it as well, but of another kind. Every time I start a painting, I try to reveal that mysterious and elusive picture that already exists somewhere within me, or somewhere outside of me, I am still not sure about that part. I just have the feeling that such an image already exists somewhere as a potential, waiting to be materialized. Through the intuitive painting process and the expressive behavior, (and without the preliminary color compositions, because they tend to reduce the level of that creative frenzy and excitement), I try to grasp that illusive image and turn it into a most appropriate form.
This does not mean that I start the work on a painting without preparations, on the contrary. I spend much time preparing myself for the upcoming “fight”, as well in terms of collecting reference as in terms of mental preparation. Beside the other aspects of the future painting, I spend much time thinking about color arrangements and mood, as well. And as you also know, I do make many sketches, studies and preliminary drawings, trying to solve the main problems of form, value and composition, but at the same time I keep on thinking about the color problem.
So, there is much painting going on in my head before the actual start of the work. I try to visualize as much as possible. So, when I eventually start painting, I often know what kind of color I have to use. But , I must admit, it is a struggle, sometimes a dramatic one, to make a compact and stabile whole from a painting when doing it this way. As a working method, it is not very practical, and it cost a lot of energy. But again, that’s the way I like to work.
|Detail of the underpainting|
|Detail of the painting in progress|
Now, I also think that the making of preliminary color compositions is a very useful thing, and it is quite advisable to include it in the working process, at least sometimes. At the same time, in my humble opinion, one should not try to solve every bit of a problem with a color composition. I firmly believe that there has to be enough space left for the improvisation and the decisions that have to be made on the spot. I don't think the artist should have too much of a "scientific" approach to art, or to have the intention to understand every part of the creative process, unless there is a very good reason for that, of course . One has to leave some space for the natural, creative instincts, that are coming straight from our own, unique personality, for these things are in charge of the uniqueness of the future art work. After all, if we pause for a moment and seriously think about it, we have to admit that the process of creation is a miraculous phenomenon. It is an ability that is “given” to us, and that we should not try to control too much…” *
As Harvey Dunn, one of the greatest American illustrators from the Golden Age, and one of the most intriguing art teachers, said: “ Paint a little less of the facts and a little more of the spirit. Paint more with feeling than with thought…When intellect comes in, art goes out.”
(From the book Harvey Dunn, Illustrator and Painter Of the Pioneer West, by Walt Reed, Flesk Publications, 2010)
* Taken from the letter written to a younger colleague illustrator.