Thursday, November 17, 2011

Beyond Good and Bad

Typically, when I make a piece or even when I'm looking at art, I'm always thinking, "Is it good? Do I like it? Why? What is good or bad about it?" I feel a constant process of judgement and evaluation. With my own work, I'm also often thinking whether other people will like it and whether I can sell it. With this new piece, What Is, I had the same thoughts for months. I had roughed out the piece back in March and had it hanging for six months while I ruminated about what my next steps should be.
What Is
shellac on blistered maple
31" x 48" x 1"
October 2011

©Robert Hitzig

My primary question was what to do with the small live edge remaining at the bottom after I had camfer-ed most of it away. In the end I decided to leave it as is because I really didn't like any of the dozens of solutions I came up with, or that were suggested to me.
What Is (closeup)
So I went ahead an painted it with red, yellow, and blue underneath many, many coats of black, as I had originally planned, all the time wondering if the piece was any good or if I was doing anything useful. However, as I approached the end, the point where I felt there was nothing more to do, and as I hung the final piece, I decided that this piece is really beyond judgement. At this point, a declaration of "good" or "bad" is beside the point. I really don't know and, truthfully, I really don't care either. I've take the idea as far as I can, done what needs to be done, and it is what it is. All I can do is accept it and move on. Maybe somebody will like it, maybe someone might even want to buy it, but I really don't expect anything more then it becoming a permanent part of my personal collection.

By the way, I recently bought a used Nikon digital SLR, the D70, and I took these images myself. Because I don't really know what I'm doing, the above images seem too light relative to the actual piece, it is really much more black than purple. Below is another image taken with less light that is closer but probably too dark. Normally, I would care more about the accuracy of the colors but with this piece I don't believe any image would be all that useful any way. My experience with seeing images of black paintings and then seeing the actual piece is that they are generally too subtle to capture in images and this one isn't an exception -- you'll just have to see it in person. Conveniently, it will be on display during the month of December at the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe, VT.
What Is (normal lighting, normal wall view)
Addendum 1/3/2012: I figured out the key to capturing the correct color is to use lights that have the correct color, which I did with the image below, but now I notice that this latest image doesn't capture the figure in the wood that you can see above. I guess my technique still needs work. 

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