Monday, April 19, 2010
Not very often, but every once in a while, I lose interest in a painting even though I've already put a lot of time and energy into it. When this happens it's often because things are developing in such a way that does not fit with how I originally envisioned it. In other words, I'm unable to adapt to the "now" that's happening in the piece. So I put the canvas aside and let it rest. In the case of "Electra" I let it rest for about three or four years! Then, a few weeks ago while rearranging my storage area I found her again, literally and metaphorically. I took one look at the well established but very incomplete picture and knew that I could finish it. I had let my preliminary vision go and could see what needed to happen instead of only seeing what I wanted to force to happen.
The story of Electra is from Greek mythology. When Electra's father returns from the Trojan War he is murdered by her mother and uncle. Electra becomes consumed by a desire for vengeance. For a time she lives, insane and feral, in the wilderness until she and her brother are able to revenge their father. In the eyes of the world she's surely justified in her miseries and actions... right? Maybe, but for me this painting is a direct contrast to "Joseph and Potiphar's Wife". Where as Joseph was able to forgive, move forward and accomplish much, Electra becomes stuck. A satellite with a low orbit circling one single event in time; alive but not living. That's truly tragic.
Monday, April 12, 2010
One Fool is the first of a diptych called The Fools. More and more I've become absolutely entranced by the textures that can be created with oils. The background here is a rendering of birch bark. Paint is laid on thickly to get sense of peeling bark. The fool's blanket is inspired by a very ornate fabric that's transparent and lacy with opaque fabric creating patterns over it. I've created an illusion of a much more opaque fabric but have kept the patterns. My first step in painting the blanket was to paint the basic light and shadowed areas then go back over it all with the tip a palette knife "carving" patterns into the paint. Once this layer was dried I delicately skimmed the top of the now three dimensional surface with lighter or darker paint and easily brought the patterns out. Look for Another Fool in the coming weeks.
Monday, April 5, 2010
The story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife (Genesis, chapter 39) has always disturbed me somehow. I guess that's the point. It makes one think. I mean, really, why not just give into the woman? Of course, if he had, Joseph would never have been thrown in prison, became pharaoh's right hand man or eventually been in a position to save the region from famine. Joseph's story only became really interesting to me, however, when I realized that what really would have derailed him from accomplishing all that he did was if he was not able to forgive. He forgave his brothers for selling him into slavery and no doubt he forgave Potiphar's wife as well. If he had spent his time complaining about how unfair life was or condemning those who had hurt him he would not have been able to see the opportunities that were being presented to him. He was too busy living and doing to worry about pointing fingers and labeling people as "sinners" or "infidels". One moves towards where they are looking. Joseph obviously wasn't looking at other people's short comings but at the good that could be accomplished. To me this explains why he could just walk away.