I started the above painting months ago, and even discussed it in my Blog for December 28 and again on January 10. The photo references were taken last year on Marco Island and it has taken me this long to complete the project. Every week or so I would fuss a bit with it. Here is a record of my progress:
December 28 January 2
January 3 January 24
February 1 February 14-tents colored
February 21–tree added
The sides are deep, about 1 and a half inches, and the staples are on the back of the stretchers instead of the sides. That makes this piece “gallery-wrapped” and able to be hung without a frame. Catch is, the painting is supposed to continue around all four sides too, so at the end, I had that task to perform. Here is what one side–the bottom side–looks like. (Look to the left of the photo.) I deliberately made the sides out of focus.
I have not decided whether I like this painting or not. It reminds me of my childhood art–in grade school I won an award from the Scholastic something or other competition for a painting of cotton pickers, whom I depicted without burdening myself with historical references or pretense at authenticity. In the foreground I had one female figure sitting relaxed under a tree with a child–a theme echoed by the central figure in the Farmers Market.
If this painting has any merit, it may be in the drawing of the figures, which I do think are sprightly. My friends Mary and Jo Ellen may even recognize themselves in the crowd. But I did not do as I intended–I had intended to paint the crowd much more impressionistically, summoning up the images in the viewer’s mind with the merest suggestions of bodies in motion. Instead, as you can see, I painted them so carefully that the people may even recognize themselves.
Part, or perhaps most, of the fault lies in the amount of care and time I took to produce this completed painting. I spent hardly any time on the buildings, and I feel good about them. But the very ground under my peoples’ feet became a huge problem for me. Because my photo references were all over the place, I tried to apply logic to establish a consistent pattern of light and shade. The question of how much shadowing and at what angle tormented me. The need to consult my logical (left side) brain in order to perform an artistic (right brain) task may have deprived me of the freedom and spontaneity to just splash and smear the people onto the canvas. Sigh. I just hope the painting has some merit notwithstanding the left brain involvement.
Another issue that gave me trouble was the four umbrellas. I have been watching the webinars given by Johannes Vloothuis, and took to heart advice that triangles are bad, bad, bad! But you can’t draw tents without using the triangular form. Plus, my white tents were boring, boring, boring! If “boring” had only meant “unnoticeable”, that would have been all right. But my white tents were both boring AND noticeable, so I colored them. A friend (Stef–thank you!) suggested stripes, so one of them acquired yellow stripes. I grew a new tree to cast shadows on another.
The triangle at bottom left, though technically risky, I left in because it keys the motif of the whole scene and besides, was the only opportunity to include closeups of the luscious veggies that I had photographed.
Perhaps I should start over, repainting the scene on a new canvas without using any photo references. A noble experiment. Don’t expect anything like that until this time next year.