Friday, August 09, 2013

WIP: The Summer Long Painting

 I've been doing a pretty good amount of painting this summer, not as much painting as I want, as I always have to juggle commercial work, but still I am at it every week. I have often been painting plein air, which I really enjoy and I feel is vital for my path as a painter--I also feel it's vital when working from photo sources and from imagination. I started this painting in my old studio on the 9th floor at school at the very end of the semester, before I moved to my new studio on the 8th floor for my last year in the Master Program at PAFA. I started it after my final review which was so-so in reaction to the other work in the series I have loosely called "the Bride' since often the female figure is wearing a bridal dress in the--they are a lot of fun to paint. They also add a lot of psychological aspects to the painting, another level, along with the covered face of the figure. I had a lot of feedback from my critics about that series, mostly mixed to negative, but the interesting thing is my fellow painters, many women painters--really loved them.The critics want specific answers and I don't want to clearly spell out the narrative.  In the end these paintings are about me and what I want to do, which is paint the figure in an interesting way, with interesting compositions and light. Narratives I don't really want to define, I want the viewer to have the freedom to do that in any way they want, otherwise it all dead, or it becomes too much like an Illustration.

The idea came to me while working on the last large drawing I did of the semester, featuring the doll house. I am working from photos I took out on Route 1 one the way to the Brandywine at one of the abandoned houses I have fallen in love with. The doll house was on one of the abandoned properties, it was slowly being  pulled back into the trees and overgrowth. I really wanted to have the model there and paint it live, or start it live but could never work it out and the spring was still pretty cold when I shot the pictures--too cold to have the model stand in the buff outside. I'm glad I did shoot a lot that day as not the house has been demolished--I was crushed to see this!


The awesome dream spot that has inspired me has now been torn down probably for some friggin' strip mall! Ugh!  I'm so glad I did shoot those hundreds of photos before it was all demolished. Right before I moved my studio I did the roughout of the painting in one quick dash in a loose terps wash, just to get the idea out and on the canvas, where it sat in my living rooom for many weeks while I did a lot of other paintings, many plein air. I would look at it every day, and think maybe today I'll start on it again and finally did last week. I was thinking a lot about how I wanted to proceed, do "tight" I wanted to work. Do I keep it soupy and loose, or do I try to go for more of a detailed or finished look. I was thinking a lot of Repin, and even Sargnet's painting of Fredrick law Olmsted, even Thomas Ridgeway Knight's, Hailing The Ferry, which we have at PAFA.

I figured I just go at it and let the ideas and thoughts work itself out on canvas as I went along, keeping it loose and work into and over things as I proceeded. Let my gut tell me. The pic above was the second session on the painting, I just sort of slopped it in mostly using my largest Kafka brush. I love these brushes, they can be used at times almost like a palette knife and I can also slap and drag them with great effect or pull a precise edge/line. I just wanted to get the color ideas down knowing I can really change anything at this point very easily. I looked at this as a painting with two figures as the doll house to me is just as equal, maybe even more important than the female figure.


This is where the painting is now after another day of painting on it. I continue to re-define the figure, reworking the background on the entire piece. Sometimes I have to sit and think for several minutes what I want next, or what needs to be painted over, pushed in, pulled out, harmonized. at 30 x 40 this is a decent size to paint at, but I realize I have to constantly keep stepping back to judge the whole. I'll continue to post progress as I progress. I snapped this pick with my iphone, so the values are off and a bit blown out.

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