Sunday, May 24, 2015

Interpreting a photo

The Dance of the Red Pails
12 x 12

This little painting is, as always an attempt to subvert the photo reference and do something painterly from a fixed and frozen image.  I've painted the little guy on the left a few times because I love his dynamic balance and the sense of continuing motion in his pose (score one for photography).  You just know that he's going to continue to move forward fluidly and unhesitatingly from this moment in time, and that quality of movement is what keeps putting him back in my sights when I look for something to paint.  

Still, there's a lot not to like in the photo, so I spent some time doodling ideas before tackling the painting.  At first, I thought about using the large, patterned bum behind the boys and adding even more abstract patterning to the background and around the children.  It would have been a painting about patterns.  But a rough sketch of the idea got it out of my system; I wasn't interested enough to commit it to paint. 

At that point I committed to the idea of children in motion, and chose a generally cool colour scheme with cool grey toning and dark green to lay in the composition.  This would enhance any warmth in the skin tones, but meant that the pails had to change colour or be lost in the overall greenness.  

The red of the pails was slashed on in the general vicinity of their final spots, so that I'd avoid that frozen motion quality.  I chiseled out their shapes through negative painting slowly, always checking in a mirror to see when I'd made enough marks to identify the objects without hitting the viewer over the head with overt "PAILS".  A lot of a painting can be left ill defined and the viewer will fill in the omissions with ease and with pleasure; I believe that viewers like to participate in a painting and appreciate an opportunity to interpret and complete areas of visual ambiguity.  My goal is to paint something that offers surprises and delights long past the first viewing.  

Happy painting!


Connie said...

A wonderful lesson for me--will try to not take my photos too literally.

Susan Williamson said...

Thank you for sharing this inspiring painting and your decisions during the process. I'm saving this post for future reading!

Ingrid Christensen said...

Many thanks for reading and responding, Susan. I'm pleased that it held something meaningful for you.

Ingrid Christensen said...

I hear you, Connie! I don't always manage to avoid seizing up when it comes to painting from photos.
Thanks for commenting.

Julie Ford Oliver said...

My jaw dropped in awe and wonder. I live for moments when a painting reaches out and grabs me like this one did. Your skill and vision are superb.
Thank you for taking the time to explain your choices.

Ingrid Christensen said...

Julie, you've made my day. No: longer than that, by far! Thank you so much for the kind and encouraging comment.