Thursday, September 13, 2012

Soon I Will Be Gone (2012, oil on canvas)

(Private Collection)
This image is based on an empty house about a mile and a half up the road from where I live. I was working on this last winter just before my exhibition at the University of Maine; it was actually still wet when I delivered it to the gallery to be hung. I had originally painted the sky a pale yellow color as I was trying to intentionally flatten the space, give it an overall warm tonality, and consciously avoid the impulse to automatically paint the sky blue. When I got the painting back to my studio, however, I was bothered by the feeling that something wasn't right about it. My first feeling was that the windows were too dark and I kept looking at it and thinking that they seemed too dark in the context of the painting, but they really weren't painted very dark at all. I did a series of pastel color studies and eventually decided to repaint the sky with a darker and cooler color, which really helped to create a sense of eerie light on the face of the house and made the windows recede back into the space, lightening their value by comparison to the sky. The title is lifted from one of my favorite Free songs and is a reference to the phenomenon that a lot of the old, empty buildings around here that I've used as subjects for my drawings and paintings over the past six years are no longer standing.

Quiet Side (2012, oil on canvas)

This big painting (34 x 40) is based on a drawing that I did last summer on Mount Desert Island. This was one of those paintings that took a very long time to bring to completion. I worked on it, off and on, for months, continually adjusting the colors of the trees, sky, road and houses, without referring back to the original drawing but focusing instead on the internal relationships of the painting itself. The painting has quite a dense surface, from the many layers of paint build up. I brought it up to the University of Maine in Presque Isle for an exhibition of my work back in February, mostly just to get it out of the studio so I'd stop messing with it. Of course, after I'd left it there, I kept having these compulsions to get it back so I could work on it some more. However, once the show was hung and I was able to see it in the Reed Gallery at the University, which is a very large room that allowed me to see the painting from a much greater distance than my studio space allows, an important consideration for a painting this size, I was happy with it. I really like the contradiction between the sense of space receding into the image caused by the use of perspective and the insistence on the surface of the canvas by the build up of thick, textural paint.