Wednesday, June 1, 2016

All Will Be Forgiven (oil on canvas, 2016)

My process involves thinking about the colors that will make up a painting before I ever begin to paint. I think of each color as a member of the cast in a play or a story. Some are major characters; some are minor characters. Some get along well with one another and others bring conflict into the composition. I also think of it like notes or chords in a musical composition – a key signature in which certain notes are used, others excluded, some are dominant and others subordinate to the overall harmony of the piece. I spend a lot of time working out the color scheme for each painting and usually spend two or three days just mixing colors before I begin to put any paint onto the canvas. It's an unusual process, but it works for me. It evolved out of working with pastels, beginning a picture with a single color and then adding more colors one by one. Each time I took a pastel stick from my box and used it in the picture, I would then put it into my left hand. The collection of colors that grew in my left hand became the characters for that drawing.

This was a difficult color scheme for me, more complex, I think, than any I've used before. It's built off of the secondary triad (orange, green and violet) – one of my favorite combinations – but there are yellows, reds and blues in there as well, and a lot of colors that approach what many call "browns" (I don't think of "brown" as an actual color; to me it's just desaturated oranges and reds.) and greys. It was a lot of work making all of these colors get along with one another and, unlike many of my paintings, there isn't a single color or pair of colors that is dominant. (Although, believe me, there were a few feisty ones, who shall remain nameless, that tried to take over the picture during its development!)

A few people who have seen this thought that the light blue areas were water, which is fine by me, but they were actually based on small patches of snow, the last vestiges of winter still lingering in the late Spring mud season. "But snow isn't blue!" you might say. Well, "neither is water", I retort. And what about those purple trees and the pink and yellow sky?

Personally, I think it's one of the best things I've done.