This painting began from a photograph in a mirror. The plant exists, but the room is just a collapsed hybrid of mental and physical space. The only atmosphere here is in the boiling black & red of the wall and the out-of-register light of the face.
In the first version, my goal was to bring each form out of the red background. The basic posture was taken from the photograph, but I did enjoy the dopey English Country Gentleman feeling in the clothes and inclination of the head.
By version 2, most of the basic furniture was in place. I did eventually eliminate the window (an element I tend to overuse). The slanted floor-light, which seemed to call too much attention to itself, was also later replaced.
Version 5 was a linear fiesta. The clashing horizontals overpowered the composition and drew the eye away from the figure. The rough comic book rendition of the face did achieve a likeness, but one that felt drawn on the surface instead of formed from the head.
Even though I turned down the contrast in version 6, it was still too stiff and rectilinear. By this point, I knew that the rendering wasn’t working. It may have looked like me, but it didn’t feel like me.
Version 9 was the key to the final painting. Blurring the mirror image helped me get to a stronger visual equivalent. Clearing away the window centered the focus on the figure. It was a stripped-down composition, but one that was starting to work.
Any screen or lens can misrepresent, even the lens of self-image. But a painting like this, based on equal parts experience and invention, is not simply an isolated object. In fact, it’s closer to instrumental music. It’s another extension of continuous time.
|"Self Camera"- oil on canvas, 40" x 40"|