Birth of Neptune
There are two things I find difficult when working without a defined subject – when is it finished and what should I title it? Declaring a work finished is something I need to feel. Titling, on the other hand, is a way for me to involve my followers. Social media, for all its negative impact, has been a wonderful way for me to share my work and receive almost immediate feedback. This is where it gets interesting. What others see in the finished painting may be very different from my interpretation. I find this exciting! The ideas can be quite varied.
My abstract work is more appropriately called non-objective, that is, I am not abstracting a scene from the real world. In non-objective work, there is no subject. I have no preliminary sketches, no predetermined direction. I allow the painting to tell me where it needs to go.
I have been told that my abstract work tends to mimic the natural world. That
makes sense considering much of my realistic work focuses on nature in some
way. I had been exploring abstraction using a very loose approach to start. I pour, drip, splash, and impress materials into the wet paint, reacting to the result after each layer dries. My first exploration in this way was very bold, using reds, magentas and even copper foil.
I was very happy with this piece and decided to continue exploring this approach, but this time with cooler, relaxing colors. I chose colors reminiscent of tropical water for this next piece. Although there was no attempt to create a realistic scene, the ‘undersea’ idea influenced my artistic decisions along the way. When it came time to title it, the obvious words of marine, aquatic, and sea all came to mind. Obvious, yet not very original. This is where my social media followers stepped up. As the piece was nearing completion, I felt it needed a bit of detail, so I added several subtle circles to help lead the viewer's eye. Those circles led to the suggestion, “Moons of Neptune”. Neptune, God of the sea. Perfect! My undersea theme was being referenced without the generic terms I had been hoping to avoid.
I had enjoyed working with these aquatic colors and felt there was much more I could do with imagery relating to undersea. The idea of a Neptune series was born. For my second piece, I followed a similar approach. The first few layers involved pouring of wet paint. Other layers involved pressing miscellaneous material into thin wet paint and allowing it to dry before removing those materials. I find this exciting because I never quite know what the resulting textures will be until the next day. (It is somewhat like Christmas morning, scampering down to see what Santa left under the tree!) One of the materials I used was cheesecloth that had been pulled apart to create uneven areas and gaps in the weave. I love the texture this creates, similar to the texture of a sea fan. Watch below as I remove the cheesecloth when dry.
I was pleased with the completed painting but stumped for a title. I didn’t necessarily want ‘Neptune’ in the title yet wanted that theme to carry through. Once again, my social media followers stepped up with creative title ideas. The title that immediately grabbed my attention was “Salacia’s Veil”. In mythology, Salacia is the goddess of salt water, presiding over the depths of the ocean. She was also consort to Neptune, later becoming his wife. ‘Veil’ worked beautifully with the lacy texture that was a dominant feature in this second painting. This title was a winner! It continued the theme without repeating the word Neptune.
I am continuing my Neptune series, this time with 2 canvases being painted simultaneously. Time will tell if by the time I have declared this finished if it will stay as a diptych or be considered two separate paintings. I will allow the painting to tell me that. Meanwhile, if you are a strong wordsmith, follow me on social media. Your title suggestion could possibly be the next one I choose!