Saturday, February 22, 2014

New Painting Underway

For the last couple of months, I've been re-learning and re-inventing how to put paint on canvas.  The way I was painting last fall wasn't expressive enough nor (frankly) good enough for my new series about survivors.  It was too timid, careful, and overworked.  So I put the series on hold while I figured out a new approach.  And now I think I have one that's appropriate for at least the first piece.

This new painting is about a friend of ours who was a Marine in Vietnam.  He was in some brutal battles and carries the physical and mental scars to this day.  When he told me that he's still fighting some of those battles nearly every night, I knew that was going to be the focus of this painting.

Getting from the concept to the composition was a long process.  I went through piles of drawings, trying out different ideas and combinations of ideas.  Then there were several color studies to wrestle with lighting, values, and color combinations.  All the while, I was working on a new (for me) way to put paint on canvas.  Eventually, I came up with a composition that best expressed the basic idea:

Color Study for "Pete"
Oil on paper

Last week, I built, gessoed, and toned the canvas.  Today was the day I finally - FINALLY - started putting it all together.  Here it is on the easel, with the color study and drawings next to it.  

And here's a detail showing how it sits on the easel right now:

Detail of "Pete" in progress
Oil on canvas

I'm really happy with the way it has started.  Once I got warmed up, getting this part roughed in was a lot of fun.  Now to keep the momentum going, stay loose, and not overwork it.  

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