Second Chances and Then More Chances

Philip Koch, Green Spring II, oil on canvas, 40 x 60",

This painting was posted for a while earlier this week and then taken back to the studio so I could work on it again. About a pound of oil pigment later, she's back to debut at the ball once again. I became aware the balances needed tuning. The sky became darker and I pruned some of the trees and finally demolished a house.

This is a painting I began sometime ago and it was based on a plein air oil. As it became a larger piece back in the studio, the centrifugal forces that always threaten to break out in all directions took over for awhile. It is a little like calming down a herd of half-wild horses and getting them back into a corral. You have to be patient and keep after them, employing both a little charm and a steeled determination.

Even so, there is a whole lot left in this painting. I tend to like paintings that aim to tell one a great deal. So often real life is overcrowded with events, movements, moods and surprises- there has to be a place in art such tumult. Of course if it is left as a confusing swirl the viewer can't get any traction on the piece and just walks on by. One of my favorite teachers in graduate school, the painter Ron Markman, used to talk to me a great deal about orchestration. He always pronounced the word with special reverence, always pausing briefly to convey the special place it held in his heart. If a painting is complex, finding the right balances can be tricky. You keep at it, trying out first one move then another. If the muse is pleased, she finally let's you close the gate and say goodnight to the horses.


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