Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Making a Painting

I'm busy doing some businessy stuff to finish off the year. I don't have much time to get much done before the holidays, but I'm working on developing some new pieces and getting some projects lined up for the new year. I'm getting ready to dive into starting a new series of paintings in January. I spend more time preparing paintings than painting them sometime. Here's a bit of what I'm working on. The following painting I'm preparing is tentatively being called "Free Will." It was inspired by the painting above ("Original Sin" by Hugo van der Goes, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.) I seem to be fascinated by the Eden story right now, and love how it is portrayed in painting. I especially love the lizard-serpent creature with the head of a woman. When I first saw this I didn't realize it was the serpent, only with legs and a human head. Then I started looking at other paintings of the same thing and realized how many ways it has been painted. I was originally going to work this into my painting, "The Bible Tree" but it has developed into having its own canvas. Below is a color sketch:

I somehow had the idea of placing it into a flooded world that's more like the flood story than Eden. (The theme of floods, water, and tidal pools also keep recurring in my stuff lately.) I put some dead trees sticking out of the water, having seen trees like that in flooded areas on the east coast. I eventually removed all trees but one-- thinking of making it more of a dead and drowned Tree of Knowledge. However I was unhappy with the composition and color somewhat, so I tried another color sketch:

I felt a little better about this one, I liked the lone tree but didn't quite like the foreground or some of the fine detail. It still seemed off balance, but the concept was much closer. I'm still not happy with the color, it feels chalky. But I will be able to refine it in the final, and get much more depth (which comes from spending weeks on the painting instead of the 3 hrs this one took.) I did a detailed pencil sketch to refine the detail and composition, I'm not sure if it's perfect, but I like it much better. It needs some more space on the right side I think. But I nailed the lizard-serpent creature.

I think I might put a rotting apple in the final painting (and straighten out the horizon line....) In this I also changed the eyes so they are looking at the viewer, and I'm still thinking about the face. I start out my paintings lately by photo-collaging them to work out composition and ideas. I thought I would include the photo-sketch as well-- even though I work from photos I change a good deal once I translate it into a painting:

For this painting, I will most likely paint more from the pencil and color sketches than the photos. While photos can be helpful-- I find they lock me into things (like where the rocks are, lighting, color, specific positioning) so I make an effort to question and rethink what's in them. You can see that in the tail and hands of lizard, the placement of the rocks, the woman's head and eyes.

I haven't started the final painting yet. I may start a small 8x10 of it this week, and may do a larger one later. I want to finish one more painting before Christmas, this may be the one but we'll see. I haven't done any Christmas shopping yet and am buried in parties and concerts and art shows for the next week. Hopefully I'll get some time this week to at least start.

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