Sunday, June 7, 2009

"Self-Portrait, Inside"

“How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people.”~Albert Einstein

"Self-Portrait, Inside", oil on panel, 8"x24", is a reflective piece, literally and metaphorically. My reference photos were taken right next to a window, but without direct sunlight, hence the darkened interior behind me and the brightness on my skin. 

I have been painting a lot of exteriors lately; coastlines, skies and greenery have been on the easel because of the upcoming Portraits Of Newfoundland show in November. I suppose I gave myself a bit of a test...would I crave to return to the figure? I let it happen of its own accord and, not surprisingly, back I came.

My next two pieces are quite personal, hence the self-portrait. This is the first piece. A simple painting really, but with hints of something else underneath. After spending so much time in the fresh beauty of the outside world recently, I am looking at that dichotomy of desire between a life spent at the easel inside and the the tests and trials one undertakes when home is a distant and abstract concept.  That balance between wanting to be outside exploring and embracing the elements must be balanced with that equal enthusiasm to convey those memories by expressing oneself as authentically as possible with the paint. I love each equally. They provide a wonderful counterpoint to one another. This good fortune does not go unnoticed and each day I am thankful for all of it.

I am going to show a couple of shots of the painting in process here. I think it is a great opportunity to look back and see how the painting has shaped, changed, refined and worked itself out. I apologize for the blurry shots.

After the first painting session

I wanted to try to convey a luminosity in the flesh in this painting. Light colours are fun to paint, especially white, because there is such a variety of colours found within it. So here I was blocking in colour and trying to develop a base layer of flesh tone but with variety as well.

There is so much examination that must be done with painting--a constant re-assessment of line, shape, colour and tone. Sometimes I am guilty of not looking at the reference enough and that's when errors happen. So there are a number of things that are occuring all at once: checking  the accuracy of the shape/form/line, mixing the accurate colour of paint AND applying it correctly. 

After the second painting session

The most progress was made between the second and final painting sessions. I would gather that I spent about 20 hours on this painting, give or take. When is a painting finished? It is never finished. It is up to the artist to draw the line, as it were. What I really wanted to do was to bring the outside inside through the reflection in my eyes. 

Sometimes I notice that the colour that I mix on my canvas is not the same as the one that goes on the panel. I know this is an impossibility, because it is the same colour, but it shows how much surrounding colours have an effect on the pigment you is quite unbelievable to me actually. I will mix a colour, compare it with the reference, and then transfer it to the painting, however, when placed next to paint already on the canvas it changes, it surprises me and I need to remix. Doesn't it show how everything is relative; that everything is connected and and each colour/thing/person is dependent on surroundings/people/culture to be true and accurate? Perhaps I am stretching it here but I think there is some truth to that. It is a tiny example of a larger picture, and perhaps I can learn a lesson or two by applying paint on my canvas as well as applying these principles to daily life too. 

This is a closer shot of the final painting

This painting will be at Abbozzo Gallery for the OSA In The GTA show happening  in July, 2009. The Ontario Society Of Artists is a fantastic organization promoting Ontario-based artists. This exhibition will involve several galleries in the Greater Toronto Area. Below is some information about the exhibition.

July 9-26th, 2009
Abbozzo Gallery 
Oakville, Ontario
Opening Reception July 9th 7-9pm
I hope to see you at the opening reception!

“It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment” ~Cicero