When is REAL LIFE Trite??
Many times I have gasped at a sunset only to remark to a cohort "if we painted it as it is no one would believe it." Sad but true. Sometimes the amazing color that nature presents us is so fleeting that to put it down on paper would feel unreal or unnatural. Sigh.
The same thing happens in figurative work. Sometimes the scene on the street is so touching that it feels hokey when painted. How many more silhouetted handholders can I take with an ocean sunset backdrop? How many more child hands painted in large calloused ones? I know, I know, people love this stuff....but in the pursuit for new some of these scenes have been painted just one too many times.
So it is with trepidation that I even show you a painting I am working on currently. Probably trite, probably hokey, and most likely poorly executed. But....there I was in Rome painting (for real) and my companion, Kelly Medford, and I ducked into a little church, mostly for the shade it offered but there was something she wanted me to see. As we were walking down the aisle I turned around and caught a glance of a mother and a young boy. They were perfectly framed by the light coming from the main window above the front altar. My instincts were to turn back around, I felt I was invading their "moment."
But the artist got the better part of me and as I glanced back to see the scene I knew it was a composition I would want to remember. I quietly got out my phone and turned once again to get a photo trying all the while NOT to appear I was taking a photo. No time to even see if I got a good one. Kelly and I resumed our tour and left the nave by a side door. I don't even remember if I shared the photo with Kelly.
It felt like a very private moment.
Several years later I was going through my photo files and came upon the scene again. This time I wanted to try to paint it and lo and behold I noticed a third figure in the background where she was standing in a posture of adulation.
This piece is nearly impossible for an amateur to photograph as it is done on a very smooth and very shiny clayboard. It would usually frustrate me because it has no tooth to grab the paint but I wanted to glaze in layers for the depth keeping the surface relatively smooth. In the painting the background is much darker but my camera wants to justify everything and I cant seem to adjust for that.
It is almost finished and if I can ever manage to get a decent photo I will post it. But in the category of eating my words I wanted you to know that THIS is, was, a real scene, not a posed one, and for me was a powerful one with a lot of meat to it. It is never as fab as the one in my mind....but maybe with a tad more work I can do it justice.
So the next time you see a hot pink sunset with orange stripes don't assume the painter is color-crazy - he may have really been there. Just feel free to ask!