Thursday, January 18, 2007

Binder Clip #4

Binder Clip #4
Binder Clip #4,
originally uploaded by robin kibby.

The return to office supplies as still life subjects was prompted by recent grad school applications. A primary goal is to beef up my representational skills. But, it will take months to find out if I am accepted, can afford to move & pay for school, etcetera. So I've opted to take matters into my own hands.
I will practice rendering forms and shadow shapes. I will use non-fictional colors. And I will love it.
Both aesthetically and practically I've never tired of the binder clip. In the years since I've left my proofreading job, I have few opportunities to combine over 5 pieces of paper, but I still keep a tray of the little guys around just in case. I pride myself on maintaining a variety of clip sizes and selecting the proper capacity for each task. They've demonstrated their continued utility by acting as an affordable display mount for unframed drawings. I like their dark interior, their hooks and curls, and their near symmetry. A perfect subject of contemplation in my academic practice.
The first few clip paintings of were fun. Chunky little representations of bent metal. Tried to show the clip as a noble, standalone element. Shadows were shaded, backgrounds gradiated. I let them tighten up to try to master the reflections and shape. But painting number four surprised me. I wiped down the brushes to clean up for the day, when I decided to get a jump start with a final sketch. I rotated the clip this way and that, and settled here, clamp side facing the viewer, handles spread like wings.
On the final blank canvas, charcoal went down quickly. Then some quick washes followed by the blocking in colors. Before I knew it, some neat stuff emerged, cool blue background blending into ochre, bright warm red marked by a fissure of browns and blues.
I was painting with the mentality that I had to rush out the door at any second, but was sucked into the process. Unintentionally the clip became red instead of the blue I'd used for its predecessors. I broke rules, fictionalized shadows, scribbles and scratched into the paint, let the canvas show through in patches. The result? a painting I was excited enough to bring home wet in the car, and place on the fireplace mantle like an unexpected "a" on a report card.
This effort marks everything I love about painting - energetic, frantic work, laced with discoveries about how to paint a subject by figuring out where to bend some rules in order to convey a truth.

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