I am on a mission to simplify my painting. I have become swamped with details and everything has suffered. The paint was dull the compositions fussy. Now, I feel I have a special filter I can employ and everything is reduced to it’s most rudimentary elements.

For example, take one of the last paintings I did in the downtown studio just as the COVID-19 quarantine was coming down.

It’s not a bad painting, but it’s not great either. The slickness of the panels makes it hard to give marks any sort of character without spreading on the paint.

"Empty Courtyard I," oil on panel by Melwell 8x10
“Empty Courtyard I,” oil on panel by Melwell 8×10

Since I have been researching Richard Diebenkorn and Leo Garel I have looked at the landscape differently. I would repaint all my paintings if I could.

"Empty Courtyard II," oil on panel by Melwell 8x10
“Empty Courtyard II,” oil on panel by Melwell 8×10

Not only is it the same composition and subject, I simply painted over the panel because the ground color I used was semi-transparent.

I frosted the panel with basic colors while the earlier attempts at the courtyard informed the steps. I was moving from complicated to simple rather than the other way around.

I imagine the preciousness of all this is a bit much, but I am in my 34th day of social isolation and I think I’ve been holding up pretty darned well.