Monday, October 9, 2017

New Work: Red Progression, oil on canvas, 48 x 72 inches

Red Progression, oil on canvas, 48 x 72 inches  $13250 framed
Saks Galleries, Denver, CO

3 minute video of this work with Ken narrating

My first desire when beginning this oil was to create a forest scene that didn't have a high finish. That is, the brushstrokes and even the physical surface of the oil would be rough. Forests are not even, polished places and I wanted this large oil to convey a bit of that experience.

In the first session when I applied all the variations of reds and oranges, it wasn't satisfactory to me. The plan was to put in a lot of complexity right away, creating variables in color but sticking to the idea of a single sweep of red trees and make it believable. I did that, and I was underwhelmed.

Peeking above the trees was an outline of far blue hills and it was lacking as well. I was too predictable. Everyday is not a happy one in the studio, but I did step up and block in a 4 x 6 foot oil, a worthy accomplishment, so I left it at that.

Looking back, what did I expect? That I would have created a really nice oil in one session?

In the second session I came back fresh and simply thought about what the painting needed: Contrast.

Once the dark tree trunks went in, the painting came to life. The background colors began to sing and suddenly the painting was calling out for improvements in a number of places. I drastically cut back the amount of the blue hill that was visible and in turn, it gave the trees more prominence.

Over the next few sessions, it was a pleasure to attend to those needs and take the oil to new places. A number of 'mistakes' were made - attempts that hit a dead end, but those moves opened up new opportunities for other, better solutions.

It all came down to making a good start and continuing forward in a way that would not diminish the power and spontaneity that existed at the beginning. I was committed to this single line of trees without gaps or interruptions. This idea created a series of  difficult problems across a 6 foot surface, so a lot of small strategies came into play.

A considerable number of changes were made along the way but always with the idea of creating a large and compelling forest presence that is interesting across the entire canvas.

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