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Showing posts from May, 2015

Interpreting a photo

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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 i…

The distracted mind

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Like all working artists, I'm a recluse, spending more time in the studio than anywhere else and seldom seeing people socially.  But I have my handy headset which, when connected to my phone, allows me to paint and chat with friends at the same time.  There are two benefits to this: I remember how to speak to people other than myself, and I paint without over thinking the process.

This little painting was done during a phone call.  I happened to notice that a sunbeam was tracking over my little vase of fake flowers and turning them from something ordinary into something very special.  The problem was that the beam was moving at amazing speed.  Luckily, I have a tall computer table on wheels in the studio, so I popped the vase on it, grabbed a linen panel, and began speed painting; all while talking about a friend's holiday and - hopefully - making sense.

I had to move the computer table every 10 minutes or so to recapture the light, and I didn't have much time for mixin…

Creating worlds

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At a certain point, you might decide that a painting is done.  Then you either stop painting, or, if it doesn't excite you, you throw a foreign object at it (to paraphrase Alex Kanevsky).

This painting was heading down a path that was working: beige skin, warm cheeks, all very plausible and all very ordinary.  I could see its finish while I was in the middle of it.  And that was incredibly dispiriting.  If I couldn't find any excitement in producing the painting, who would be excited by looking at it?

So I put it aside for a bit and did some thinking and looking through old photos.  On a trip to the Met. Museum in NY, a few years ago, I saw this Kees Van Dongen painting:
It dominated the room.  While my photo is probably colour skewed, it doesn't matter: it reminded me that I am creating a new world within each painting, and in that world, I make the rules.  If I can't at least create an interesting new world, then there's no point in painting.  Why create mundan…