The Art of Selection
by Dot Bunn
Ayn Rand wrote, “Art is a selective recreation of reality.” These are words that I paint by. Nature is an endless source of inspiration, but it always comes with too much information. My challenge is to distill an image from the complexity of nature while eliminating what is not essential. The recreation of reality doesn’t happen by simply copying what you see, and the poetry of light does not reflect off a photograph. You need to make intelligent choices.
Thinking it through
Through the deliberate selection of composition, color, calligraphy of hand and final presentation, the work becomes individual. I strive to paint a mirror of my sense of life. If I am confused about what I want to communicate or too clichéd in the imagery, the work will have nothing worth contemplating. Every year our lives become richer with experience and through that filter art is created. When someone views a work of art, there needs to be a connection between their understanding of life and the artist’s expression of life.
Balance and Control
Painting completes me and satisfies a persistent need to create, but the drama of uncertainty in developing a painting does not appeal to me. My nature wants balance and control in my work. Everything about the process of making a painting is a seductive challenge, but it needs to be built on a foundation of rules and guidelines. Although I believe that rules in art are routinely broken with success, there are certain canons of good design and color that form the foundation for great work.
Learning from the Past
My compositions are based on the Golden Mean and the Rectangles of the Masters. Many of the great works of the past conform to these proportions, which were first identified by the ancient Greeks. After studying and copying works of the eighteenth and nineteenth century English portrait painters I found that consistent measurements were used to ensure a pleasing result. These gifted painters did not act simply out of random enthusiasm. It is through acquired skill that we have the ability to bring forward what we visualize in our imagination. Acquiring skill takes time and work. One of the wonderful aspects of being an artist is that the learning never stops.
WHEN SOMEONE VIEWS A WORK OF ART THERE NEEDS TO BE A CONNECTION BETWEEN THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF LIFE AND THE ARTIST’S EXPRESSION OF LIFE.
It is not the subject itself that is interesting but the way in which the artist chooses to interpret it. With very few exceptions, all of my paintings are of places and things that I have actually experienced. During the process of creating a work of art, the unexpected happens in color and design possibilities. From these suggestions, I choose what will or will not complement my intent. Art is a science of mathematics, aesthetics and psychology all rolled into one. To be successful, both the mind and heart of the artist need to be engaged.
I start with what I call a scribble drawing. This is a very loose sketch that helps me find the internal movement and dominant angles in the work. This drawing needs to be refined with additional drawings. If the initial design is not good, no amount of color or bravado brushwork will fix it later. The act of drawing also establishes an intimacy with the subject that will guide me throughout the painting. The better you know your subject, the easier it will be to interpret it in paint. Sometimes I do a simple thumbnail value study to aid in the transfer from line to mass. Then I start painting with a monotone wipeout image to secure the light mass.
Drawing and Grisaille for Mirror Lake
Mirror Lake, 24 x 24 inches, Oil on panel