Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Looking in/Looking out

   I'm working on 2 paintings right now for a group exhibit at Robert Lange Studios, in Charleston. The theme of the show is "Everything Changes". Each artist was asked to make two to four pieces that are the same size and depict the same subject, but in two very different ways (different vantage point, different tones, different angles, subject in different positions, etc). Just before I found out about my inclusion in the show, I had started this painting, which I had in my head since last summer:

18" x 24" (in progress)
   It's been a nice change to paint inside after doing a bunch of paintings en plein air. I work on these at night; a few hours at the end of the day after the kids are in bed. I've noticed that the interiors that I do seem "tighter" and more controlled then the work done outside. I think this is a product of me slowing down and not having to deal with things like shifting light and weather conditions...there's a constancy to what I'm looking at each time. Inside or outside, they're all landscapes to me.
   I wanted to do another painting of my studio, similar to the one I had painted in Brooklyn. Both have strong vertical elements...instead of paintings on the painting rack, here, they're books on the shelves. Both depict an accumulation of things over time (art works and knowledge) and describe a very personal space where they are created and experienced.
   The first painting was based on this drawing, which I did over the summer, before the room became my new "studio":

charcoal on paper, 22" x 30"

   My idea for the second painting in the show, was to depict the same space, seen from another part of the room. The chair depicted in the 1st painting is one of my favorites (from IKEA), so I decided to do a painting sitting in the chair. Now that I'm well into the painting, I remember how much I hate sitting down while painting. Too restrictive for me...I need to glide easily back and forth from the canvas.

18" x 24", in progress
   Both paintings share similar objects, particularly the foot stool and the cream-colored, ratan rug. While the room is the same, the space in the paintings function in completely different ways. In the first, the space is closed off, a corner, where your eye pinballs around to the different geometric shapes. The second one is much more open, where your eye wanders diagonally through the space, with the open door acting as a literal and visual exit. In the first painting, on the easel, is the second companion painting, which link the two together. I'm was always fond of how Lucien Freud would paint his other paintings inside his paintings...a sort of meta-narrative about the act of painting.
   I'm also playing around with different light sources and how they effect and create divisions in the same space (the overhead spots in the far room, the lamp light, and the light from the computer).  There's also a lot of patterning that happens in both (a constant theme in our house), from the wood grain, to the coloring of the book spines, to the weave of the rug. The vertical format reinforces the sense of enclosure and visual compression in both, something that architecture inherently produces.
   Because I'm painting in such a dark space at night with only a clamp light overhead, I usually have to go back to tweak the colors during the daytime. The room has windows on both sides, so I can see how the paintings look in natural light. I love walking in first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee to check out what I've done the previous night. Both of these are almost finished, and I'm looking forward to seeing them framed and hung in the show next month.

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