Thursday, March 20, 2014

Whole Piece #26

"Whole Piece #26"
5" by 7"
Oils on Panel

Where a Painting Diverges from the Photo Reference

There can be a particular joy in painting someone or something you know well. In this case I painted this facial feature from a photo a very good friend generously submitted to the project. When I paint a subject I know, I am painting with so much knowledge, I have seen so many moods on that feature, sometimes I have seen it in afternoon light, others in morning light, or in the harsh glow of fluorescent lights, I have an understanding, a belief, an opinion that has built up under so many variables that it has complexity and I am bringing that to the painting. 

In any painting I am attempting to paint more than what is visually in front of me. Often the changes are made to convey mood, or to emphasize an aspect that was subtle in the subject. Here the photo was taken in very warm yellow lighting and that color shifted the mood of the photograph regardless of what the facial expression conveyed. I used my personal knowledge of the subject to come up with the color palette for this painting which is wholly different than the photo and simply took the shape and shadows of the nose from the photograph. I was most pleased with the final use of light purple to tie the color palette together.

Familiar Faces in Pieces

"Whole Piece #26"
Side View
In the context of the larger Whole Piece series seeing familiar features becomes a different experience. I recently laid out all the dry paintings together on a flat surface. I wanted to see if I was achieving the visual impact I had hoped for and if the careful juxtaposition of very different features could make the collection more meaningful. (I was pleased with the result, but the photo of it isn't up to snuff, so I'll have to share a better photo sometime soon.) 

Since the Whole Piece Series was inspired by facial aphasia (in which one cannot put a whole face together but only see it as disparate elements) and the common human experience of miscommunication, misreading, and over reading other's facial expressions I found that taking these individual features from people I know, even though I can picture their original context, can still lend an ambiguity to the mood or emotion they are displaying. That ambiguity that leads to thoughtfulness was what I was hoping to achieve. As these images come together as a group I hope you all will see it too. (Here is how to join in too.)


I have made some progress on the experimental piece of book art. In fact I became a bit obsessed with it the other evening, spending hours cutting out bits of text with a fine pen like exacto knife. It's curious progress will be posted soon. Whew, sleepiness loosens my jaw allowing a stream to poor out. Time for bed! Night.

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Thanks for your interest in my art. I'm very curious to hear your thoughts. Cheers!