|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.