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Creative Process

This blog will follow the process of my current project: a series of three 5' x 9' figure paintings called "The Feast of Venus". I'll be posting the preliminary drawings and oil sketches as I complete them, and possibly add some commentary along the way. I have just begun this project and am working on the first painting in the series which has the working title "Stirring the Pot". All images on this blog are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Salter and Me

As an artist I am interested in the subtle ways in which ancient patterns of life persist in the present and alter the flavor of experience.

We humans lead a layered existence: part of our consciousness resides in the modern world writing blog posts while another part is still scanning the horizon for prey; the moments when the two realms touch are like tiny stitches linking the opposite sides of a quilt.

One such moment for me is adding salt to a dish: I scoop from a jar, raise my arm so that the salt will distribute evenly, and let the grains sift through my fingers. Salt falls; steam rises. Every time I perform this simple motion I have the fleeting sense that I am performing a sacred ritual in an ancient world; that I have not only salted but blessed the soup. Then I flip on the news, because I have to listen to something while I cook, and I am back in the 21st century.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Three Cooks

When I was in school at The Art Students League I painted a different figure every week. That is the League way: your class is assigned a model for the week; the monitor sets a pose; you grab the best spot you can and that is what you paint for the week. Some weeks we had a nude, some weeks a clothed figure and some weeks a portrait but always one figure. Alone. Truth be told, in those days I had my hands full with just one figure - it was hard enough to get the nose in the middle of the face and keep the paint on my palette from turning to mud without having to deal with more than one figure at a time. But after I left school I started to think about how to put figures together: my ideas for figure paintings always seemed to involve a scene: the first ones I did had two or three figures, the next ones had five, then seven and now I've stopped counting. It doesn't matter because no matter how many figures I put in a composition the building blocks are single figures, groups of two or groups of three.

The three cooks are at the heart of this painting and I have spent a lot of time figuring out just how I want them to relate to each other and to the overall composition. I call the figure on the left the Salter because she is sprinkling salt into the soup while glancing at the Taster for guidance. The lifted arm of the salter is the central gesture of the painting; the gateway into its world. Its shape is echoed by the taster's hand as she lifts the wooden spoon to her mouth; together they form a series of archways drawing the viewer deep into the painting. On the right the Sous Chef scrapes carrots (or are they onions?) into the soup with a decisive gesture that brings the viewer back to the center, to the steaming pot of soup.