tweaking gaze 2 on a dark day / by Philip Tarlow

5:12 PM: i'm now sitting in out east living room, looking at gaze 2 hanging on the wall. next to it, on the floor, is gaze 1, which was the first in the series to break into brighter colors than can be found in any of the previous paintings in the series. in comparing the two, i can see the part of me that was trying to recreate that breakthrough. this is a common, natural habit, very difficult if not impossible to break. the trick is to build on these breakthroughs, not to mindlessly repeat them.

so, as much as i hate to say it, gaze 2 needs more work. although it does have beautiful passages, right now i don't think i've taken it where it needs and wants to go. and that means once again giving up any attachment to any particular area of the painting. it may end up being just a small intervention. but it has to be one that is not in the slightest calculating. as with all the successful resolutions of the paintings in the series, it has to simply happen. in it's previous incarnation, when the image was inspired by the same vermeer painting: the art of painting, the focus was vermeer's self portrait, sitting on a stool with his back to us, painting this model. now the model herself is the center of attention. but, as with the vermeer self portrait, it's not the success of this figure in and of itself that matters. it's the integrity of the picture plane as an arrangement of colors, strokes and shapes that matters. and that's what tomorrow will be about.

i hope you're not getting bored with what increasingly seems like a familiar, repeating series of events. but that, right now, is what my creative process is all about. i take courage from one of matisse's greatest painting, bathers by a river, which hangs in the art institute of chicago. matisse developed this composition over a period of years, returning to it again and again, making changes and adding yet another layer. each successive layer was undoubtedly a masterpiece. 


BELOW are the before (left) & after. on the right

1:49 PM: i started out just wanting to correct her nose, which was a bit to wide, and of course ended up making other changes, mainly to the upper region. gone is the red rectangle, which was part of the map behind her head. in spite of the dark skies and poor lighting conditions, i think the painting has improved. so i'll take it over to the house in a little while to hang it on the east wall and evaluate.