Monday, April 26, 2010

The Threshold of the Soul and other works

The Threshold of the Soul, 2010, acrylic and coloured pencil on D'Arches 140 lb. hot press watercolour paper, 22x28 inches.
Click on any image to enlarge.

For this blog, I have one new painting and two collages. The painting, The Threshold of the Soul, has been a long time coming. I started this painting in the autumn of 2007 not long after setting up my studio in Paris,  KY. It went through a long gestation period after I initially pencilled out the figure. The background went through massive changes from what had been originally drawn in my sketchbook and transferred to the larger watercolour paper sheet. It is also my first painting of a friend of mine who I regard with considerable respect and the utmost esteem. She is a writer and a person who has given much thought to the journey of Life and where she is on that journey. Without her, I don't think I would have done this particular painting quite this way. 

She stands at a portal between light and dark. It is not a literal landscape where I have clearly violated the rules about how light and dark are supposed to interact with each other but instead it is a landscape of the soul. The figure who stands at this portal is deciding whether she wants to spend a life in the light/happiness or a life in the dark/melancholy. She is more present in the light because that is where she wants to be, yet she knows she cannot fully enjoy the light before her without the dark behind her.

And So I Was Summoned From The Etheric Void, 2010, collage, 11x14 inches.

Sometimes the title comes to mind before the actual image does, and in this case, the collage is a rethinking of an earlier idea that failed in terms of composition which as it turned out was a blessing in disguise. I am fascinated by 19th Century fiction especially if it is Gothic with its attendant mysteries and overall spookiness. I also like the images to suggest stories in the viewer's mind that may have both occurred to me and not occurred to me. Is the man whose face floats overhead a ghost or is he someone who has crossed a quantum/inter dimensional void? Who is the man with the floating hat and number pinned to his chest? What are his powers and what does he use them for? What of the lady standing next to him? Does she fear the man being summoned? Or does she fear the summoner? That is for you to decide.....

I Have Loved You For So Very Long, 2010, collage, 11x14 inches

For this collage, I have a great weakness for stories involving the theme of Love Across Time. The clues here are the colours of the men's clothes and the colour of the woman's hair and her dresses. Each romance takes place within the shadow of the Gothic tower in the background as a man strides happily towards his lady love who awaits him at the outer door. In the foreground are all the past times this couple have loved each other.

Coming next: I am working on a collage set near the Sphinx and the Pyramids as an unwrapped mummy listens in utter rapture to a Victorian lady speaking or perhaps singing into a very early phonograph recording her voice onto a wax cylinder. My brother saw this one in progress and liked it very much. I may do a second possibly somewhat larger version for him.

Painting in Progress-conclusion

Click on any image to enlarge
With this installment we end where we began, the model's face because I want every element of the composition to pull the viewer back to her face because without her, this becomes a rather odd landscape instead of what it actually is, a meditation on whether to live a life of light or of dark or to put another way, a life of happiness or melancholy perhaps a blending of both.

In the close up above, I had started out with using coloured pencil as an underpainting and then going over it with a thin mix of acrylic. In the previous blog, I was not happy with the way that looked so I went over the paint with a new layer of coloured pencil and used the pencil to blend areas as well as to lightly indicate shadowed areas. The lower lip was partially painted out and corrected. The eyelashes were also done with coloured pencil along with loose strands of hair drawn over the painted areas. The combination of the pencil and the paint bring the face up to the same level as the rest of the painting. The pencil alone was too thin to give her the same weight as the rest of the composition.
 Other touches include foliage at the lower left of the painting and the finishing of the pathway to the colonnade in the daylight portion at the top. Some additional texturing was included in the wall and column. At some point in the near future, I will probably pull this painting out of the frame and work on the ivy a good bit more as I am not totally satisfied with it but at some point have to stop working on the painting I started two and a half years ago. Below is the(for the moment) finished painting: