Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Eight Elemental Amphibians (of Sally Williams) - Panel #6

Well, so much for sharing my progress here as I was working on this piece. It's finished now! I'm so good at neglecting my poor blog anyway, and with all the pre-holiday craziness going on I should've known I wouldn't keep up with new posts. But, now I have all eight completed panels to share over the next several days.

First, a bit more information on this project: my aunt commissioned me to create a painting for a large, vertical accent wall for a good friend of hers. She left the subject matter completely open for me to choose, with only the practical consideration of transporting the painting as a limitation. I've had the pleasure of spending a little time with her friend Sally several times over the years. She's a wonderful person for too many reasons to list, but most importantly (for our purposes here) she adores frogs. Her home has a bit of a Buddhist theme with lots of warm colors, especially reds and golds. So, frogs with a hint of Buddhist-inspired decorative flavor was the obvious choice to me, as it's very personal and unique to Sally. My solution to the problem of fitting the painting in a car to get it to Kansas City was to make multiple panels that work together to create a large installation.

Panel #6

Here's panel #6. The gold color is highly iridescent/metallic, and the underpainting layers that show up mainly as purple are also a bit iridescent. The overall piece is glossy, with the red and white being the most matte of the colors. I find it nearly impossible to capture those subtle differences in the finish in photos and I feel it's an important characteristic of the finished piece.

Panel #6 (detail)

Panel #6 (detail)

Panel #6 (detail)

One of my favorite techniques that shows up in my work again and again is 'painting the negative,' for lack of a better way to describe it (as in the lotus, above). I paint in the negative space of the object, leaving lines of the background color showing through to create an outline. It's challenging to get the object to turn out looking right, but I always end up enjoying how it looks even when the shape isn't that accurate. It fools the eye - from a distance, it appears that the lines are painted on top as you'd expect. As you move closer and realize that the lines are actually 'behind' the negative space, it makes your focus shift back and forth between what seems logical and the reality of the layers.

Panel #6 (detail)

I always consider the edges of works on stretched canvas as part of the piece. On some, the edges tell the whole history of the painting. Patches of colors that I use on the very first layers of underpainting I'll allow to show through, even if they don't appear on the front of the finished piece. For viewers who are interested enough to look that close, I like leaving those kinds of little glimpses into the painting process.

Panel #6 (detail)

The green poison arrow frog is in the usual pose it always seems to be in just about every photo I've seen of one. I originally planned to paint it in a sitting position, but this climbing pose does seem to show off its stunning patterning the best. It may be a cliche, but I think it still looks interesting in the context of the rest of the painting.

One panel down, seven more to come.

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