Matrix, oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches, © 2012 Diane McGregor
The last two paintings I've completed -- this one, Matrix, and the one from an earlier post, Sunyata (Emptiness) -- have been very difficult and labor-intensive projects. I've decided that from now on, the grid paintings need to stay in a small format -- I'm figuring no larger than 24 inches square.
Although there is an encompassing shimmer that is lovely to behold in this larger work, I faced some tough challenges that I didn't expect when I decided to increase the scale of my grid paintings. When painting the smaller format grids, the whole painting can easily be "unified," a quality I strive for so that no part of the composition weighs more heavily than another part. Working large, this is an almost impossible feat, and requires hours and hours of just staring at the painting. To find the right rhythm and balance is an arduous and not very pleasant task when confronted with a large arena like these four foot canvases. The extreme sensitivity it takes to make the decisions is psychologically and visually exhausting.
Part of the reason why I love painting grids is the freedom from decisions. Because I am using a "ready-made" compositional device -- the grid -- the parameters and rules are set up before beginning the work. My only decisions (after choosing the color palette) then become confined to each rectangle of the grid -- tiny decisions which eventually accumulate into one harmonious and subtly balanced image.
My plans for more ambitious work now involve using series of panels that would make up a larger whole, an idea that will make each smaller panel part of a larger, more dynamic image. The arrangement of smaller, square canvases will also emphasize the conceptual use of the grid as a compositional schema.