Every artist is familiar with ugliness. Everyone commits to that one brush stroke, that one carve into linoleum, or that specific chord on the guitar. What results can be horrific. Our stomach tenses, a sudden pressure in the skull, and definitely a fully activated gag reflex. Art making is full of undesired effects. The best way to cope is to laugh about it! I want to share and laugh with you about some of my recent experiences with Ugly Color resulting in Ugly Painting.
This past week at Thursday Night Figure Drawing, held at the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania, I arrived ready with a plan. I was going to doing black and white figure studies that would later be used for extensive glazing techniques which use a series of primary color glaz–
Where are my paints?
I searched through my bag several times as the model was getting situated. Alas I had forgotten them, but someone had left a large tube of paint near the door with a sign that said “Olde Paint, feel free to take” Inside that huge tube crusted with nasty dry oil was one of the ugliest colors on the market: Winton Newton’s Viridian (Hue). What made this color remarkably ugly was that two of my prepared panels had a warm brown/grey ground. The combination of brown grey and electric pthalo green was stunningly ugly. I should also mention these panels I made by hand and two of them were improperly pressed. The result was a surface of muddy bumps.
The next two weren’t so bad having a white ground:
Some weeks later during a drawing frenzy I created what I thought was a pretty cool drawing. A massive metropolis filled with life. Excited to enhance the drawing with a sense of light and color I dove at it thinking that perhaps if I used some of the worst colors of the 80s I could achieve a profound effect. Halfway into it I had to stop and write this post on Ugly Color:
It is possible to overwork a piece, however I don’t think overworked pieces are dead, there is always a way to resurrect it. What these pieces need is to be sat down with, chuckled at, and thoughtfully re-approached. Then with luck and patience their nastiness will transform into a beautiful butterfly of art.