06 August 2008

Famous Last Words

30" x 40", oil on canvas, 2007

It's been said that even abstract paintings tell a story --not from the imagery itself, since it's non-figurative and non-narrative by nature, but from the viewer's knowledge of the artist. The story of the artist becomes the story of the painting.
That said, I'll reveal to you the history of these Echoes and you can piece together a story from that.

They began, like most of my paintings, as ideas of what I'd like to see paintings of. This early stage consists of a lot of sketching...and getting ispiration from watching movies, looking through art books and magazines, and listening to a lot of music. Hard work.

The paintings the Echoes are based on are figurative and the next stage for that kind of picture is finding a model. Usually, I wait until I've gathered about a dozen or so sketches of poses I'd like to paint (and there's always room for improv) before looking for somebody. This approach is why you'll see a run of paintings with the same model as I exhaust the usable photos). My models have always been friends or co-workers --people who don't model for a living. Once this non-model agrees to be in some paintings they must bear with me as I pose them according to my sketches and fiddle endlessly with my makeshift lighting system. I've been taking pictures as long as I've been painting and I prefer to shoot my own photo reference whenever I can. Since my models are non-models they don't have to sit for hours, day after day, while I perfect a painting; I set up my lights, they pose, I click the cable release (I use long exposures and an old Minolta SLR film camera when shooting indoors to control the lighting), and about two hours later they're done and free to go.

After the photos are developed (the 1-hour service is just fine, thanks) I do more sketching to get used to the model and work out a tighter composition (than my earlier sketches) and decide what colours to use (if the BG will be abstract, otherwise I'll find or shoot more pictures to make a "scene").

Then I paint the picture. Working from photos enables me to paint whenever I want, which usually means deep, deep into the night while the model is off at their home sleeping.

Then that painting gets photographed for documentation and website shenanigans. Sometimes with my little digital camera, sometimes on film but, either way, they all end up in my computer.

For the Echoes I strategically manipulated the paintings in Photoshop to get a look similar to my abstract stained glass designs I use in a lot of my paintings (going back to my very first watercolour paintings in 1988). I think of it as keeping the DNA of the originals.
Or something.

As all this abstractificationizing was done in the computer, I had to get the new images out of it to use as photo ref...so it was back to the 1-hour place for handy prints.

Then I painted the pictures...and somewhere along the line I came up with some nifty titles (in this case, common idioms).

Of course, I then had to photograph these guys so they could go into the computer...and so you could see them here.

That's the story of the Echoes.

This is my abstract version of my original watercolour painting wall.



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