Friday, July 19, 2013

Thirteen Days Until August (oil on canvas, 2013)

(Private Collection)
This was one of those paintings that didn't come together very quickly. One of the first steps in my painting process is mixing up a palette of colors for that specific painting. Sometimes, I will do several small color studies, trying out different combinations, either in pastel or oil on paper. I like to think of the colors as characters in a drama. Some of the colors are the main characters and some are secondary, supporting characters. Sometimes the story is about a single color and often it is about some kind of drama between two colors: a love story about two colors who meet and discover that they were meant to be together or, perhaps it's a story about two colors who don't get alone, the hero and the villain, protagonist and antagonist. Usually, the story gets worked out on the canvas as I work, but I'll usually have a general idea of which direction I'm going in. Some colors get casts in the initial stage and then get cut as the painting progresses and some morph from one color into another, depending on the needs of the picture. In this case, I began by thinking about the red violet and the yellow green - two complimentary colors on the cusp of being warm or cool. I did several pastel sketches in which sometimes the yellow green was dominant and sometimes the red violet was dominant. Sometimes the colors were very saturated and intense, and sometimes they were dull and muted. In some versions the sky was a dark and very strong pink and sometimes it was almost white, with a barely discernible hint of color. When I mixed my paints and started the painting, I felt that the challenge was to get the red violets and greens to get along, which they didn't want to do. I worked on this for many days. My colors dried up and I had to mix new ones and there was a great deal of frustration, punctuated with long periods of just staring at the image and contemplating it. Then one day, this orange showed up, uninvited. I'm not sure where it came from, but it made it's way into the grass on the right at first and then into the sky and the trees and suddenly, everything worked. A color that was related to the other two, and could help them get along with one another.

The subject is the group of structures on the Framingham Road, which, along with the house on the same property, have been a particularly fertile subject for many drawings and paintings over the past two years. The biggest barn on the left suffered some severe damage last week. I went by it on my bicycle two days ago and the entire right side of the building has collapsed and is about to topple onto the smaller shed in the middle. It may continue to provide interest as a subject.