“YuRimas” – a portrait in phtalo green + training your skill-saw

Yesterday I made a huge progress on my latest painting I call for now “Rimas Tuminas.” The face I have painted on the canvas looks like the face of the Lithuanian theater director. Sometimes I really start wondering how things like that happen. Čiurlionis, Nietzsche, now Tuminas? My unconscious is trying to tell me something, or what? Ha!

A portrait in phtalo green is visible on the lower left side.

For this painting I used a paint knife I usually use when painting with oils. It is just easier to grab thick, heavy body paint and mix colors with it. I have been using this knife a lot, but this time it almost felt like my hands knew what to do next, how to put the paint, in what consistency and in what kind of strokes. I knew I was going to paint a portrait, but I didn’t know that this portrait was going to be a portrait of Rimas Tuminas.

Another wondrous thing happened while working on this canvas. Because of these thick strokes with the knife and the white heavy body paint being mixed with the green this phtalo green became absolutely gorgeous. I applied a similar technique to the violet. They both gave me a wonderful effect. I avoided to mix the phtalo green with the violet altogether. They do touch each other on the canvas though creating a great visual energy.

The phalo green and the violet become warmer lit by an early sun. They can become quite mysterious despite their sharp/strong energy.

What I have learned working with these two colors is the fact that they need to be mixed with the white if you want to get their full potential. They like to be applied in thick strokes. I am clapping my hands like a child who just discovered a new toy. I have seen some breathtaking paintings made using this knife-thick-paint technique. I am excited to see this appear in my work more often.

Light and shadows add more details on the raised by the thicker paint surface.

The situation I am experiencing now I call “the second show.” It is always a test. Even though this is not my first work by any means and I have put quite a few layers of all kinds of paint using all kinds of tools, but to me this is the first time the paint just laid itself almost like by some kind of magic. Maybe that is what it feels when at some point your skills advance without you even realizing it. As not satisfied as I was the day before yesterday with my first result with the green and the violet being together, yesterday’s work gave me an absolute turn around after an hour working on the painting when the green portrait just came out onto the canvas. I said to myself that I would be pretty satisfied if I finished my day’s work now. It felt like a huge part of the painting was just done. I did a similar take on the violet with my paint knife later. I am glad I did it, because now I have two characters interacting with each other on the canvas.

Originally written on 01-15-18


There is a certain understanding that nobody but me is capable to do what I am meant to do. It is funny to read this back, because who else can do what you are mean to do if not you?

I am painting every day now. I can see this part of my artistic endeavor developing little by little. I believe I let go easier “the mistakes” I make on my canvases. Yes, I get frustrated when something is not working for me, but then again I live with these paintings. I know every stroke I have made on them. 

This doesn’t mean that the strokes or color combinations I have chosen to use are wrong. There is really nothing wrong with anything. My eyes can sometimes ask: “why did you chose to use this green and this violet together?” With each painting I am learning something new. Each painting advance my skill set to a level I am not even aware about yet.

I purposely turn my paintings away from my view now because I do need to stop lingering with my thoughts on them. I need to let my paintings live in the state they are in, finished or unfinished. I need to sign them. After I sign my canvases I know that I can’t touch them anymore, so there is that.

I also started seeing a certain tendency with my work. Sometimes it feels like I am all over the place with the way I apply my techniques while painting. Sometimes it feels like I am still looking for my preferable way of working with the paint and brushes/knives, but then something comes over me and I find myself just painting with whatever fits that canvas.

It is quite amazing when a painting, it seems, paints itself and usually is finished way earlier than expected. This happened with The Blue Angst, now with my recent work I call “Rimas Tuminas,” but I believe Yuri Popov is on it too.

Well, actually, The Blue Angst lived through two painting periods. The first one was when I started it. That yellow and blue combination was not inspiring me enough to continue on it. So the canvas collected dust for a year until I returned to it last year. I believe, I finished the painting in two days or so which in my book is fast. It is still one of my favorite paintings. I remember the rush I had while painting it on the last day.

The Blue Angst – stage one.
The Blue Angst – stage two.

A very strange thing happened while I was working on it that day. I was very into the painting when C. came to visit me. He asked if I wanted to go to B. I needed a new canvas so I went with him feeling under some kind of energetic euphoria, still under the influence of my intensive painting and physical work on the canvas. In a way by taking me to the city C. removed me from this painting. When I returned, I clearly saw, the painting was finished. There was nothing to add or remove and I was like wow, it is done! How did it happen? I have no idea.

Something similar happened with “Rimas Tuminas/Yuri Popov” painting. The canvas I thought originally was going to be all violet. There were some strange characters developing until the phtalo green came into the picture.

This painting was supposed to be painted only by two colors – violet and white.
The phalo green changed it all. It became the dominant color later.

I had this feeling of loss one day when I thought I lost most of the work I have put while working with the violet. But all this proved to be a false alarm because the very next day my paint knife came into my hands and with thick strokes of the phtalo green mixed with the white the portrait appeared exactly where it had to appear. I don’t know how that happened, but I knew that the painting was done as soon as I saw the finished face. I just needed to do some last touches straightening the violet into this mysterious character looming above the image of Rimas/Yuri.

YuRimas after the “tightening.”

It seems like I experience things like that time after time. Something similar happens to me when I write. One day I would have a hard time finding a word to finish my sentences while the other day a whole, fully developed entry would, it seems, write itself. This probably has something to do with your development. You have to cut so many pieces of wood to finally reach the level when the skill-saw just listens to your hands and goes in straight line, cutting exactly where you need it to cut your pieces. There is something in that constant training of your skills.

I am not sure where I stand with my art yet and it would be stupid from my part to compare myself to anybody, but I see an amazing amount of absolutely breathtaking artists. I find myself constantly thinking, why somebody would spend millions upon millions of dollars on dead painters’s paintings when you have all these incredible works available now to be purchased from the living ones for a fraction of whatever you agree to pay for a dead painter’s painting. This reminded me about one of my friends, an artist, that I should send him a message to put his ass down and paint, because his art is inspiring, original with a sense of humor and a perfect dose of inappropriate message in it.

Okay, I have sent the message to my friend. There is just something really charming about him. I might be attracted to him without me fully realizing it. Not sure why there was this need to send him the message. Maybe this is some kind of reminder to myself? So in a way by sending him the message I am actually sending a message to myself, a certain reminder to be who I really am. I had this feeling that he needed somebody to cheer him up and remind him about his talent, probably pretty much like I am in need to be reminded that what I do maters even when it seems like nobody else but the woods and fields know about my existence (oh goodness, how dramatic!)

Originally written on 01-17-18

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