Eric Ortega, Oil on Paper

When the landscape and everyday objects around me begin to look different in a measurable way, I know I am on a new plateau, one that I’ve been working steadily to reach.  I am finally beginning to reap the rewards of a recent return to the study of color and value scales.  Knowing that my surrounding are now looking different, I evaluated older paintings to see if I can understand why I am either pleased or displeased with them.

The portrait of Eric Ortega continues to be one of my favorite paintings in spite of the fact that it falls into the realm of realism.  In fact, it hangs on the wall, rather than filed away on a storage shelf in the basement.  Until recently, I have not understood why I continue to enjoy viewing this painting.

The shapes are varied in both size and contour (straight, curved, jagged).  There is a clear delineation between color values of light, medium and dark.  The subordinate values within each of these ranges stay within the appropriate limits of the range.  For example, the darks in Eric’s pants are still lighter than the mid-value of his arms and face which fall into the medium value range of the entire painting.  The darks in his flesh are still much lighter than the mid or dark values in his hair, shirt, shadow or floor.

The dark values in the entire painting connect in one way or another.  The lights and mid-tones in the painting also connect, allowing the eye to move freely throughout the painting from one shape to another.  This supports the feeling of Eric’s dance movements.  He does not appear to be frozen in space like a cut-out against the floor and wall.

Warm colors and cool colors play against each other adding to the sense of form and dimension, creating the depth of the space Eric moves through.

As I review more of my completed paintings, I am creating another pile of paintings to be sanded down and painted over.  About ten percent find their way back onto the storage shelves.  I find it refreshing that I can let go of so many canvases and feel good about it.