Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Small world after all

It's starting to come together. What once was a large intimidating white wall with scant pencil marks is slowly, yet surely, beginning to reveal itself and grow smaller. The underpainting is going well and if I apply myself I may very well have the four main figures completed by Christmas (I seriously doubt it, but we dare to dream and believe in Santa). All in all, I'm satisfied...that is until tomorrow when the critical eye has been rested and once again opens and points out flaws that need to be addressed over a few cups of coffee. You never see it until the next day when you look at the previous days work and wonder why you were painting with your head up your ass. It's as if little art trolls are hiding in the studio and undermining your efforts on a nightly basis.

Franklin McCain

Jibreel Khazan (formerly Ezell Blair, Jr.)

David Richmond
For those wondering where the heads and hands are, they're coming. I'm concentrating on maintaining consistency in the garb first before dealing with a variety of flesh colors. I'm doing this, not you!

There's a certain degree of elation that eventually turns to melancholy on the slow walk home with the completion of each phase. I can only describe the source as a feeling that one day this is going to end and like Alexander, I will weep when there is no more to conquer. In art, the joy lies in the battle, not the victory.  

Friday, December 11, 2009

Working out the kinks

I'm starting to get back in the groove. There's a tactile feel to painting that needs to be reconnected with each and every time you approach the canvas. You start pensive, then after an hour the frustration leads to boredom with the confinement generated by a paralyzing fear that comes from thinking about an outcome too far to even fathom. You get tired. The brush feels like a mop handle spreading tar. You step away and get angry at the sight of confused effort. Dammit, quit thinking and paint. The strength of purpose overcompensates and now you move too aggressively and that's when it occurs...you fuck up. Nothing major, after all you've just begun, but there it is; the wayward stroke or the wrong color. No one can see it but you. Happens every time, it's part of the dance. You curse your predicament, question your judgement, wonder if you should start over but realize that's not a viable option worth pursuing so you stall; use the bathroom, get something to drink, change the music, pace the floor, stare at the canvas and in the end, do what you should have done hours ago - let go and quit caring. You negotiate terms with failure and after awhile you begin to relax and muscle memory takes over. Like a marathoner, you hit your stride, settle into a pace and eventually achieve a level of comfort that allows you to quit questioning the process. Even though you can't see it, you can feel the trust emerging, telling you that everything is fine. That's what I've been waiting for. Trust in the process. After two days of painting, it's finally here and I know I'm going to be okay. The image below is from day one. 

I finished the clothing and moved onto the next character's clothing. The angle of attack is to complete the four main characters in the painting and set a visually consistent tone amongst them before moving on. The goal is to have them completed before Christmas. Ambitious, but I want to get as far out front on this painting as possible.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sketchy start

The whole painting has been loosely sketched out. The morning started out on a high note but soon crescendoed into a frustrating comedy of errors trying to locate my computer cable for the borrowed projector. After turning my house upside down, I turned to the media lab at the College of Charleston only to find that the cable they provided wouldn't work (my dumb ass didn't think to actually bring both projector and computer with me). After a couple trips to various offices and departments, I finally thanked them for their help and walked a block over to the Apple store and purchased the right cable for $20 (which is what I should have done in the first place). Trying to save money cost me 4 hours in time. Nonetheless, the sketching was finished late last night. This morning I'm going to pick up some reference shots and fine tune. I should have some paint on the canvas late this afternoon. The settling in has begun.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Guess'o it's time to gesso

Sorry about the bad pun title. Had to do it. I'm getting ready to head over to the studio and gesso the canvas. I'll stop by there later on this afternoon and hit it with a second coat. The comp is finally finished. I thought I had it completed earlier but after my little research trip, a few people dropped out and a couple others were added so the whole composition had to be reworked. Having to travel during Thanksgiving didn't help, but hey, had to see mom and spend some time with her. Some things are more important than painting. I didn't expect that this would take so long but you just can't swap out people like engine parts and expect the composition to work. In this case, I had to swap out a total of eight people which threw the proverbial monkey wrench in the gears. I also needed to place faces on bodies which was a pain but now that it's done, I'm a tad relieved. I finished it last night and took a look at it again this morning and made a few more changes. I'm very happy with it and can proceed to the next phase now. Here's a part of it:

I'm going to reach out to the College of Charleston tomorrow and see if I can borrow one of their computer projectors so I can start sketching. My goal is to have the whole thing sketched out in detail by the end of the week.