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Recovery Paintings; hand-painted, geometric

Four weeks out from my heart surgery,  I dove into acrylic and watercolor work on paper. I was still a month or two away from returning to work, but my energy was increasing. The previous paintings I worked on were all on the iPad, and didn’t require and setup, paper or real paint. I didn’t get as far with these hand-painted pieces, but the one I did finish gave me a great sense of balance and satisfaction (scroll to the bottom for that).

Just as I started the digital paintings with carefully laid out patterns, I chose to start these with a geometric grid. A former mentor of mine named George Walker taught me the technique of drawing transparent paint on with custom brushes and guides.  I used the ruler on my drafting table to get the background lines painted on.

Work in progress. Here the lines are all horizontal, pushing me to think of this piece as a land/sea scape.
Work in progress. This time I added some vertical red to add energy and a more engaging overall compositions. This is where I stalled out.

Simplicity is a great place to start from, but also easily crosses into complication. These paintings became slow moving after a pretty vigorous start. In other words, still in progress. Work that is geometric in nature seems to require a bit more consideration in the finishing stages as any small move stands out. This is opposed to more gesture and color-rich work which often can be finished in a creative storm.

I managed to finish one painting and put the rest of the project into hibernation…

Sketchbook drawing for the painting that helped me figure out the final compositions. Notice the 2 sets of eyes and smiles?


Here is the finished piece. As you can see, there are some circular elements that add some charm and break the grid. tap or click to enlarge

purchase this piece



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Recovery Paintings; Digital

I’ve spent the last 5 months recovering from open heart surgery. My art and design work have played a critical role in my recovery. When faced with life or death situations, there are a wide range of visual imagery that come to mind. Everything from empowering, light filled environments to dark, mysterious and menacing motifs. I made a conscious decision to follow the path that was most comforting and healing to me.

The first drawings and designs that I did during my recovery at home, were geometric and colorful. A neutral balance of shape and tone; not overly excited or rich in movement. A few of these designs are complete and are linked and embedded here. There are a roughly 6 of these designs that I feel confident in publishing here and should eventually add to the storefront.

The first piece completed on returning home from the hospital. Click to see full size.
Another early recovering piece with a vibrant and light tone. Tap to see full size.
The most in depth recovery painting took longer to finish.Tap for full size.

The geometric “drawings” were a little more than digital coloring books that I made myself. In this case, they are based on tesselations that I found online. I added the tesselation pattern as a layer in my drawing and applied color one small shape at a time. This worked well as I was just a few weeks out of the surgery and my mobility was extremely limited. As I said, I did not finish them all right away as they are time consuming and very demanding in terms of focus and patience.

Eventually, I wanted to add some more emotion and colorful movement to my digital paintings. I started by painting behind the pattern layers, which was in essence, painting “blind”. I discovered that removing the pattern layers (which blocked my final painting) was a moment of sheer luck. A few of the paintings completed this way are examples of what I would strive for in abstract colorfield painting. Very satisfied with the results.

This work-in-progress shows the geometric layer, and some painted objects that were hidden
A finished piece with a few geometric elements showing through in the background.
Another completed work with some strong geometric elements peeking through the background.
This final piece was the first one I finished using this technique. None of the geometric layer was left.

I was at this point, 4 weeks out from my surgery, that I dove into actual acrylic and watercolor work on paper.

Read about it in the next post.

Read about my physical recovery.

-Andy Holck