All new old tricks

the wait 30x40

In my last post, I was fussing a little about the whole plein air thing and that, though I have enjoyed the last 10 years of p.a. events, I felt it was time to start doing more serious work. In talking with a lot of my friends I have found they are feeling the same way, time to let the new kids enjoy the process and hunker down to the fight the big fight. The question for me, as I'm sure it is for many is what then? What's next? What to paint?

I started a series a very long time ago of small paintings from little 2"x3" black and white photos my gramma left behind, shots of far away places from another time; Morocco, Paris, somewhere in Japan, vignettes from her life traveling with the Woman's Army Corp. They are pretty great and I've always had an attachment to them, I think it's because I have a love for the traveling thing too and in a slightly different way have spent a goodly amount of time moving from A to Z and documenting the world. As I have a show coming up and a very long wall to fill, and a desire to do something a little more thought out, it occurred to me to come back to this series and make some 30x40's.

market 30x40

This has been an opportunity to pull all of my old illustration tricks out and use whatever I have gleaned from my years of painting outside.Working from black and white fuzzy little shots has been a lot of fun. Obviously I had to make up the color and was able to do that for the most part because of my years as an outdoor painter. The shots were already pretty well composed and the values were already there so the rest was just editing and inventing. I worked a lot on broken color and looser applications of layers to add to the texture of the work.

meeting 30x40

This one was the first and I may go back and rework it to give it more broken color treatment in the background, it got a little rendered. For some reason, with this series, there has been a little more in the way of discovery, possibly it is from working with just black and white reference. I've been looking at NC Wyeth, Dean Cornwell and Howard Pyle for these and it has been a powerfully humbling experience to look at these guys and know, really understand, how friggin talented they were. More than likely they had little in the way of color photo reference, at least not compared to what we have now. Most of what they had was from books, personal travel and sketches. If they had to include a camel or an elephant in an illustration, they couldn't just google it until they found the right angle of the species, they had to go to wherever they had to go to figure it out.... I'll have to google how they did that. (I'll put up samples of what I'm talking about next post)

Anyhoo, this has been a fun chance to create more narrative work, learn a little, and connect with the golden line. That's the line that connects myself and my grandmother and the lineage that connects Mr. Pyle, NC and the Dean of illustrators. I can only dream of knowing any of those guys, but at least their work lives on to tell their story.

dinner for one 20x30

Now this last piece is a bit of a tangent but still lies within the purview of narrative art. I mentioned a while back that I was in a restaurant that was projecting old black and white movies, Greek movies actually. And I thought, "Hey, there are some really good scenes here that would be great reference for paintings." I have a thing for the film noirs, it's the lighting and the drama. I asked a friend who knew a guy who knows film and he said, as long as you change it enough... it's a merging of different scenes.

This whole idea is great fodder for a discussion on copyright laws and what is a violation and what isn't and where the line is. For me it's a painting experiment and an idea that I want to pursue but, I don't want to step on toes. Back to the painting, I was talking to a guy I respect in every way and he suggested that I try some odd 3 color thing, limit the palette in an unusual way to see what comes out. I went with Alizarin, Prussian green, and yellow ochre. That's what I did. If anyone can tell me what movie this is from, then I guess I've violated someones copyright... but it was a fun violation.

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