I decided to exclude the chains. It is enough to depict two people bound together struggling to be free. Or is only one aching to be free? Difficult to tell from this image. So often people have their epiphanies after they destroy others. And the destruction may not be literal or obvious. It is enough to wear away at someone’s confidence or their self-worth. Often, one’s self-actualization is an excuse to think of oneself above others. I still like the abstract background these figures inhabit. I am reminded of the work of David Park. It has always been a goal of mine to depict figures in a landscape but to have the elements appear to be organically formed, that is, to grow from each other. Complicated, and difficult to achieve.
Recently someone I consider a wonderful person died. As I age I keep receiving these alerts that life is brief. So as the saying goes, I return to art, which lasts far longer. This past weekend, I attended a walk at Aquetong Spring Park in New Hope, PA given by the Philadelphia Mycology Club. The person leading the walk struck me because her features seemed straight out of an early Lucian Freud painting. I also completed the portrait of my puggle Sammie, which I will be giving to her amazing Veterinarian Dr. Jessica and the staff at Lambertville Animal Hospital.
I am focusing on both composition and color particular to nature as I work on improving my landscape painting. My impetus was this lovely acrylic painting on wood panel by Nora Muchanic. I am learning a lot just by looking at her sense of color, brushstroke application and simple but elegant composition. Her painting is entitled “Lone Tree.” I recently visited Andalusia in Bucks County and was impressed with the design of their gardens, as well as all of the natural beauty found along the Delaware River. My painting is called “Road to Andalusia.”
Every time you wear sandals instead of shoes you make yourself vulnerable; you do so if you go barefoot. Why do our bodies make us open to judgement, or worse, attack? Why do we allow ourselves to live inside skins that can be ridiculed, pummeled or desecrated? And after we have been humiliated why do we say “once more, please?” Good questions for which I don’t have the answers. Rather, I choose not to answer. This particular illustrated body is in danger because something has weakened him. His feet being exposed seems to be the least of his problems.
When I first learned about Caravaggio, one of my professors talked about why the artist painted a figure’s dirty feet. These dirty feet showed that the painter used every-day people to represent Jesus’s disciples. The gutter was brought into a work of art. Low meets High. The art of Caravaggio is for the masses and about the masses. Those feet demonstrated that Caravaggio came from a world that was decided on the streets. This is very different than the figures seen in Rubens: those lush, bathed and neatly quaffed figures more at home in the Courts of Kings and Queens.
This is where I am with the most recent painting. Perhaps I have overworked these feet already, and I am feeling a bit insecure about that.
No, no, no, do not paint small areas separately, almost completing them, or actually completing them, without first laying in larger areas of light and dark, or color. I was taught since I began courses in painting, that every portion of your painting surface should be colored. Never leave the bright white of canvas because color is relative; a color is seen differently depending on what color it is next to. So, I have departed from that rule here, and I did so with Portrait of Cat and other paintings as well. Why? Perhaps it is too much confidence, or arrogance. I have been painting for 40 years. I have grown to expect certain eventualities. I believe I can figure out what colors will do as I progress through a painting. All will come to fruition in the end because I have put in a great deal of time and effort learning and relearning as I have made my art over the decades. And it is gratifying to kiss some rules goodbye.
with how this is coming along, I have treated myself to a library visit, homemade cornbread and a Mexican dinner. Going forward, the figures’ shadows will tie it all together in a subtle way. Very pleased with myself today.
I am happy with the beautiful face of this figure. It has the perfect ratio of warm to cool: thoughts of Velazquez. The middle figure brings the painting together. The pose, the values and the colors all harmonize with the overall composition. I envision the figure on the right with Rubensian flesh tones. The tones will contrast nicely with the other two figures’ flesh colors. Additionally, I am healing well from Takotsubo. It usually takes a month and I am near that mark. And, my Mets won a game yesterday. Good work all around.
Working on the landscape elements of this painting has been a way to escape my current health issues. I know from experience that once a health issue crops up, it is easy to get caught up in negative thinking and lose my equanimity. So, I am going to make a concerted effort this time to not start thinking the worst. So far, I have come across a bad doctor, an equally bad cardiac unit of a local hospital, and some truly kind and caring medical professionals. I have to have faith that I will come across more of the latter and not the former as this journey continues. Maybe the Three Graces can help guide me.