Sunday, July 29, 2012

PAINT & WORDS: A Journal  Of Ideas & Images

                On "Swimmer's Shoulders"
                                                                         (Written entry follows the images)

Swimmer's Shoulders--version 1

Swimmer's Shoulders--version 2

Swimmer's Shoulders--version 3

Swimmer's Shoulders--version 4


Swimmer's Shoulders--version 7



"Swimmer's Shoulders" (Artist & Model series), 60" x 48," oil on canvas


This painting was developed from drawings--invented and from the model--as well as from reference photographs. It’s a studio construction, made in studio dreamtime over many 5 to 7-hour sessions. The title comes from a phrase the model used to describe herself, though she isn't an avid swimmer.

After the initial composition was set up, a simple profile of the main figure just seemed too constrained, and the pose changed considerably along the way. The yellow light on the window frame led me, in some strange way, to the strength of the head, but I can’t fully explain how . As with more and more things these days, the connection in paint is clearer to me than the connection in words.

I’m always drawn to landscapes (and landscape-based abstractions) that let the eye shift from traditional perspective to flat patterning and back again. I gave myself a similar challenge with this painting: to play the volume of the main figure off the contour-driven elements of the room. I had mixed success, but the painting does seem to conjure up its own ambiguous space.

With the exception of the double portraits, most paintings in the Artist & Model series reduce the artist to a background figure or the image in a mirror. It’s the classic manikin or homunculus, a little man of the mind. This feels appropriate for the self-involved, compulsive behavior I often fall into in the studio.

There are two other “Artist & Model” entries now in progress. When they’re done, I'd like to work on some variations in composition and tone. The figure paintings will continue, but it’s likely the homunculus will go on hiatus--though, whatever happens, he’ll still be there in my mind.