I started painting when I was a child so I cannot remember a time when I didn’t look to art for comfort, inspiration or guidance. As I explained in my book, Dean Triolo Retrospective 1999 – 2009, “these paintings (Transitions Series) were my first movement into abstraction. My life was in transition. My father had just died and it was a time of contemplation. In the midst of loss, came a new sense of freedom. It was also a time to survey our relationship and come to terms with what is was and what it was not.”*
If you are an artist or if you’ve had the opportunity to speak with an artist, then you know that each painting not only conveys an idea, but represents a story as well.
Since I used my book to share the story of my painting style and how it evolved from my Transitions Series into the Soft Series, I thought I’d take this opportunity to discuss my abstract painting process and current projects. My painting process consists of four stages:
- Stage one is the moment of inspiration or trigger event.
- Stage two begins with color choices and the creation of color boards and chips.
- Stage three is the act of painting which includes both my physical and emotional experience with the paints, brushes, palette knife and canvas.
- Stage four is the unveiling and response from the viewer.
After several Transitions paintings, the Radiations Series became “…the movement out of the grief of loss and into spiritual centeredness.” *
My artwork is physical, spiritual and emotional but as I grow and transition from one series into another, my process remains the same. Here is an example of how I work using Radiation with Gold, Red and Brown (shown below).
Stage one: The inspiration for Radiation with Gold, Red and Brown was a familiar one; a soft, warm, sunny California afternoon.
Stage two: I selected from an array of colors and color combinations to create a color board and color chips. I looked for images, drawings, paintings, and photographs that would highlight the colors, rhythm, and patterns attributed to the feelings I wanted to express in the painting. From the color board, I created the color chips and experimented with the paints using different brushes and techniques.
During stage two I also decide if I want to paint on canvas, wood, or paper and whether to use oil or acrylic paints. Typically I will paint on whatever type of canvas I have depending on how much space is available. The decision to paint with oil or acrylic is similar. Environment and time constraints are also factors since oil paints are odorous and require more dry time. Once the decision is made, I prepare the background then test colors and brush strokes.
Stage three: I paint. For the Radiation Series, I used a flat surface and rotated it on a table. Once the background color was applied, I started in the center and painted outward. If I got stuck or frustrated (yes, that still happens) I walked away and continued with another painting or started a new one. Since each layer had to be completed and dried before the next layer could be applied, I usually had 3 – 4 works in progress at a time.
Stage four: The unveiling and the experience of the observer. Once I allow someone to view my work, it becomes a shared experience. The painting creates a bond, but the experience and emotional response is unique for each person. As I stated in 2013, “My hope is to engage the viewer and stir something on an inner level. Possibly to provoke and reassess their view of reality, even just the smallest bit.”*
Since my process starts with inspiration, I am always excited when it happens. Inspiration can be found anytime and come from anywhere; a dream, a scent, an image, a photograph, a memory, a thought, a sound, a feeling, a movement. It happens when I’m asleep, driving my car, walking through a park, browsing in a bookstore, rushing through the grocery store, looking at the beach. It comes from hearing someone laugh, seeing a leaf fall, the smell of chlorine, the sun on my skin or light reflecting off the water. I always try to take advantage of those special moments which is why I often have several paintings in progress simultaneously.
The result was Radiation with Violet and Green. I painted this on watercolor paper prepared for oil paint. I wanted a sharp contrast between the top layer and the soft background so I really had to work with the transparent lavender paints to get them to show up against the green.
The Soft Series “also grew out of my Transitions Series. Inspired by the works of Van Gogh, this series is about color and texture. I love working with oil paints. Oils have a sensual, rich quality to them.” *
This is an artist’s date photo and the inspiration for Soft Black with Buff and Terra Cotta. I took this photo, pulled the colors from my paint collection and started painting. No color board or chips were necessary.
Like the Transitions to Radiations Series, the shift from Radiation to the Soft Series was gradual. There is always an overlap so again, I usually had 3 – 4 works going at a time, alternating between a Radiation painting on the table and a Soft series on an easel.
Currently, I’m transitioning into the Fields Series. I started this because I wanted to move away from the layered technique with its thick paint and chucks of color and explore colors that blend into one another and make smoother transition.
With the Fields Series I also began to name my paintings. In 2013 I wrote, “In the titling of these works (Transitions through Soft Series) for the most part, I used a numbering system, or the colors. I wanted to leave open to the viewer the freedom to see and connect from their personal vantage point.”* Now that I’m older and I’ve gone through several life altering experiences, I have decided to personalize my paintings more. Since I have always been attracted to Haiku, I now use fragments from Haiku poetry to title my paintings and to help convey an emotional short story.
Color board and chips for I Have Known Lovers
Below are my latest works for the Field Series: Lighting One With Another Candle and The Moon Seals It. Both were created using the color board and color chips above.
All of my paintings start as an idea and become an emotional experience that evolves into a final work of art. They reflect a feeling that is inspired by an event or sense memory and tell my story. “I am constantly looking at works and taking in new information then synthesizing it through my personal filter.”* Even though I wrote that years ago, it still applies today. I have a four stage process and although I don’t know how it compares to that of other painters, it’s how I approach my work and how I create a connection to others.
*Excerpts taken from Dean Triolo Retrospective 1999-2009 copyright 2017 https://app.thebookpatch.com/BookStoreResults?search=dean%20triolo&ddl=authors
**I discovered and starting going on an artist’s date after reading Julie Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. https://juliacameronlive.com/ I receive no payment for recommending this book.
For more information and to view photos from my own Artist’s Dates please visit https://deantriolo.com/2018/09/16/what-is-an-artist-date/