David Norcross

Straight as an Arrow

Painting a straight line sounds easy enough for anyone who claims to be a “painter.” It seems so basic that you would think it would be second nature, but honestly, for me, it does not come naturally. I find that making the initial outline in a painting is somewhat stressful and physically demanding. I end up holding my breath for long periods of time, trying to maintain the same body posture and limit any movement to allow for the steadiest hand possible.

But with each painting, it feels like I gain more control. Looking at some of my recent work I can see a progression that I am proud to say has come with lots of hard work (and very little breathing.) Space Rock I (10”x10”) and II (20”x20”) are examples of me challenging myself to try to mimic a line drawn with a ruler and a pencil with a brush and some paint. Simple enough in theory, but not in reality. I began both of these paintings by layering washes of different colors, giving them an organic feeling that contradicts the rigid straight lines and hard angles. Then, I chose a color for each of the sections in the dome and got to work practicing my straight lines.

Space Rock I

Space Rock I

Space Rock II

Space Rock II

I used the same idea for Rock Study painting (18”x24”). Using a ruler I sketched out the initial triangular shape and filled it with intersecting lines. The base of the mountain is made of two Baltic-gray tones. I limited the color palette for this one to four colors that repeat. My favorite thing about this is that brilliant yellow green has 9 spaces, bronze yellow has 8 spaces, yellow oxide has 7 spaces, and cobalt turquoise has 6 spaces. The background for this piece is different from the Space Rocks. I like the flatness of the blue in this one and the idea of its simpler representation of the sky. I had actually done another painting just like this one as an 8″ oval (Rock Study I), but I forgot to photograph it and it sold at the festival I recently participated in.

Rock Study II

Rock Study II

While painting a straight line still doesn’t come easy to me. I guess what they say about practice is true – it hasn’t made me perfect yet, but I can definitely see improvement.

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