Recently I read an article by an artist who was wondering if it's a mistake for artists to post work in progress shots of their artwork. His feeling was that it was somehow taking away some of the mystery of the work and possibly devaluing it by too much exposure. I'm not necessarily the biggest fan of the social media age, but one of the best things to come of all of this, is the glimpse into the studios and working habits of artists that I admire but will never get a chance to meet. I was able to introduce my work and get accepted into a new gallery, and this came about entirely through social media. So here's a look into the creation of one of my latest, "Admiration", oil on panel, 16" x 20".
My initial concept for this painting was to show how our vision and perceptions of the world around us has been filtered through technology and how eventually we have to bring it back to looking at nature if we want to remove the scales from our eyes. How many times will a realist painter have to hear the compliment that it looks just like a photograph, when what they should be hearing is that it looks perfectly natural! I wanted to paint this one using daylight to add another "natural" element to my concept. Once I had set up the vase of flowers with the wooden bowl, I began to look for other circular forms and shapes to add to the composition. I had recently been talking with some students about the apocryphal story of how Giotto submitted a drawing of a circle to the Pope when he asked for a sample of his work, and how Rembrandt included two circles in the background of his self portrait, as if to say "I'm twice as good as Giotto". Once I added the wooden pulley, and silver bowl, the painting really began to take on a mind of it's own (yes sometimes that really does happen, it's not just artist b.s.) I start my making a careful drawing on paper, sized to the canvas, which I transfer using conte crayon on the back of the drawing. I used to save every drawing that I made, thinking I would need them for the eventual retrospective I was going to have, but my studio is small and I just can't store them, so now I use the originals and don't have to deal with the idiots at the copy center. Here's a shot of the transfer with a wipeout using thinned down raw umber. My wipeouts are kept fairly simple; two values. My theory is that if the painting doesn't grab me with a two value structure, it's not going to grab me with twenty.
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