Thursday, November 19, 2015

Everything needs its individual attention

The question of giving every student different treatment and a varied set of tasks based on his/her personality has been haunting me for a while. Time and time again I see that inevitably one or two students in each class need a lot more time on each project than others. I feel awful hurrying them along, as typically these are the students who truly pay attention to details, are quite the perfectionists and want every one of their pieces to truly become a work of art. But then what do I do with the rest of the group? I can't constantly split up, on occasion into three separate corners - where each student is doing something different based on his/her skill set and interests. It makes me crazy, I'm feeling like my head is about to explode in all these different directions.

This painting has been attempting to give me answers to that question. I went into it with my typical expressive approach, covering the canvas at once with slashes of my favorite palette knife. It all somewhat worked, but all the elements seemed to lack their own personality. And it occurred to me that I can't treat the surface of the water in a completely identical way in which I'm handling the tree growth, or the clouds floating along. They each move in their separate way: trees reaching up, clouds circling along, water drifting in horizontal lines. I need to copy their movement with my lines, being mindful of each and every personality, so that it could be a valid form in the composition, so that all these actors can have a dialogue with each other.

And yet, these are all parts of one whole painting, and all these personalities have to coexist in it. Trees and sky reflect in the water, merging and balancing out colors, shapes and lines of the final piece. It's just like all people ultimately coexist in one society, somehow learning along the way their ways to cope with that society's demands. So then even though a conversation with each student can be slightly different - should my final goal be to teach them integration into their group? That would ultimately give them an important life lesson, correct?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

How do you set your priorities?

This painting has been haunting me in its purpose because it's a sudden internal shift from trees and all their symbolism to a cityscape. Did I need to do that for more people to understand me, or was it something inside of me that wanted a new or rather re-visited challenge? The answer to this question I don't know even now after the painting is finished.

What I do know is that it was a true lesson in setting priorities. What is more important to me - the infinite sky, the haunting water, or this magical town highlighted by rays of sunshine? It was a constant adjustment of what hides and what comes out. Especially fascinating was how the darkening of one element brought out another. 

One day my friend and teacher, Andrey Tamarchenko, came to visit, and said that textures can be varied throughout - treatment of water and sky should be softer than the rough outlines of a city with its decaying walls. I ended up making the sky and water more pale, and suddenly the city became clearer, as if coming out of a mist. But it bothered me because the city wasn't my focal point. It was actually the opposite - what I loved was the cityscape's complete integration into the landscape, how it effortlessly coexisted with the cloudy sky and the murky water. I changed it yet again to level out the planes, and that made me happy. So is the lesson to take away from this process the opposite of what I'd initially thought, and in fact you can really have it all? Or that perhaps you always need to make a list of priorities?