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i always start a painting from a drawing or collage. i have done collage for 30 years - my own, and also "assembling" my late partner's collages.

i build the collages from material that (usually) i have generated myself, and then cut up. the source material is sometimes nebulous, sometimes a slight pattern reference, but always the cut out shape itself has "structural" (in my head anyway) properties. i assemble them (7x7") by holding the pieces over various parts of the collage, and rotating them, until they SNAP! that is the gestalt moment i refer to in this group.

anyone else use that? any variations on it? if not, what DO you use?

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That's a wonderful thought...I can feel the snap as you talk about it.
My works are rather minimal but what's interesting is playing with what might seem like a horizon line and turning it sideways...it leaves it up to the viewer whether this makes sense them, in an atmosphere vs structure setting.
In the big picture, I assume some people will hang the works other than the way I present them, and I like that thought. I like that people can change the weight of the gravity and the work still makes sense. It's been a while since I've used complex compositions but I'm off to look at your pics!

Can people then turn your works any way they want to hang them, if you work on them that way?
actually not. although i turn them multiple times every day that i work on them, again there is the SNAP. and i see them as finished. because i attempt to downplay facility in my work (otherwise they become WAY too slick), i tend to leave somewhat "unresolved" areas. if i attempt to resolve those, they do dead. therefore, that final SNAP becomes very important. in my head they don't work in any other orientation. but generally artists see them as rotational compositions. if for not other reasons than that drips run in 4 different directions! (i try to minimize those too!). heading off to check out your work...
I do that when creating collage. I think the thing with collage or any painting is knowing when to stop. Sometimes I have that gestalt moment but keep on goin'...
because I am have too much fun! One thing about the creative process for me is, I start for me then as I go along I become inhibited because I don't want to ruin the piece and then the piece can get stiff and lose energy. I need to free myself of that.
yes, with this approach you cannot be "precious" about any part of the painting. you have to be willing to paint over GREAT paint. ruthlessness is a necessity! otherwise, as you say, the painting gets tight and becomes lifeless. the pain/joy of painting!

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