Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Interiors

     I've started two new paintings, both of them interiors of our house. Coming off my last paintings for a group show here in Charleston, I figured that I'd explore this theme more. They are fairly large for me, 21" x 28", and will probably take a few months to complete. One added bonus is that when it gets so damn hot down here in the summer, I'll be able to work on them in the comfort of my air-conditioned house.
     Both of them I've had in my head for awhile, and this first one is actually based on a drawing I did last summer of our living room:

charcoal on paper, 22" x 30"
     I did this shortly after our move to Charleston last May, and one of the things that spurred me to draw it was the rug. A few years ago I had painted our parlor room in Brooklyn, and this rug was one of the dominant features of that painting. Besides being attracted to the patterning and colors, this drawing also represented our big move...the transition of our furniture (and lives) into a new space. A new place, a new beginning.
     As I went back to the same spot to start the painting, I realized that I couldn't position my French easel to get the same vantage point as the above drawing. I was pushed back a few steps and to the left, which gave me a view with part of the wall over my left shoulder. The lamp shade in the lower corner came more into my field of vision and I thought this created an interesting tension in the resulting sketch I did:

sketchbook drawing, 10" x 13"
     I liked how the smooth, white shade allowed the eye to roll off it into the space, and how the simplicity and blankness of it contrasted with the rest of the heavily patterned elements. The shapes began arranging themselves in the rectangle nicely, and I'm looking forward to the challenge of balancing the depiction of things both very close to me and very far away.

oil on linen, 21" x 28 (in progress)
     This is where it's at after about 3-4 hours of painting from the motif. My main objective when I start a painting is to lay down the basic shapes of the composition, positioning the different elements in space and going for the over-all feeling of light in the piece. I usually do this simultaneously with the largest and smallest brush in my box. With the large brush I'm going for the big shapes, blocking in the tones and building up the surface. With a thin brush, I'm drawing in the lines, similar to what I would be doing with a pencil, locating the position of things and finding the edges. This opening sequence lays down the foundation for what follows. There definitely is a looseness with the paint that I want to preserve at the end, and this is where it starts.

pencil drawing from sketchbook
     The second painting I started, is done in our guest room, which doubles as my kids' "arts and crafts" room. The previous owners designed it as a music room, which explains the high, pitched ceiling (for the acoustics). It's an amazing room, and kind of has the feel of a barn, with all those rafters. I thought it would make an interesting painting to depict my kids' "studio"...
     As I was drawing this sketch, my eyes and pencil gradually began creeping upward toward the ceiling. I included this in the sketch, but not the final design for the painting...I thought it had too much going on already, although I might return to this idea in the future.
oil on linen, 21" x 28" (in progress)
      I want to play with the idea of 2 distinct types of space in this painting; one near and one very far. The hallway on the left recedes deep into space, and is balanced by the elements in the foreground (table and rug) which tilt and compress into the space right in front of me. There is also the dichotomy of an indoor/outdoor space, with it's two different types of light sources, both natural and incandescent.  With both of these paintings, I really want to emphasis the geometric shapes that I see in the room...a conglomeration of circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, and ellipses.  The patterns and light will suffuse these paintings with an air of clarity and detail that I usually gravitate towards.


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