30 November 2015

"No Man's Land" - Allegorical Portrait from Concept to Completion

Like any concept, the initial visions of imagery and mood, message and methodology are springboard material at best; they are made of stuff that evolves, and is meant to mature as the idea is seized and formed by the artist.

I usually conceive of a few key words or phrases that represent the initial spark of the concept, and help guide the process of bringing it to roaring life.

In this case, I was working with the key word Soldier in my mind, as a I gathered additional information to then execute the concept into a final result.

Soldier evolved as it became evident that the title begged for something a bit more atmospheric in its description, as in a place, or a state of mind, more specifically. I didn't want the title "soldier" to leave the viewer stuck on the loaded iconography of what we currently think is a "soldier". I wanted the title to allude to there being more than the soldier of today, or the soldier of last century, or even the social, political archetype of the soldier figure, alone. I wanted it to be psychological. I wanted it to trigger the elusive, vaguely defined "no man's land"notion of a complex inner state, emotionally.

Perhaps this piece is an inside-out and backwards portrait of what the perspective of seeing through the psychological state of No Man's Land is like.

This final piece grew out of an exploratory study of the idea of "Soldier" I had - Again, that initial concept was a spark, but I knew it would not come to fruition through the creative process in the same form it began.

Here're some sample images of building up the first study to get more clear for myself exactly what I needed to articulate:

After the first small rough, you'll notice the final first study is quite textured, for my usual approach - I was playing and exploring, chasing something I wasn't sure of, and seeing how much I needed to push and pull the mediums to possible catch it. Here is the final:

This study was on a 6x6" loose hotpress watercolor paper sheet, trimmed with a deckled edge.

So I took a step back from getting to a point where I didn't have any other points to get to, for this particular study, and I looked at it with devil's advocate eyes, fresh intentions come readily to light for the concept's trajectory... What if I smoothed it down to push it back, going at it delicately, tenderly, instead...

I had a number of questions to answer, and once I did, I started again, this time with the final piece in mind.
Here's the way this more mature approach took form:

First, the watercolor on the natural white hot press paper! THEN, the graphite structures...

And now building likeness of my portrait first and foremost through layered form and structures, in graphite...

Loosely, generally addressing the broad shapes within the skull and flesh to create presence...

Be gentle and patient with your build up of layers and structures - Get the structures solidly, don't get lost in distraction at the final result.

The eyes are taking form, and therefore emotive impact, slowly building up.
A little gentle scumbling of layers along the negative space...
Almost there, but not quite. A good several more layers and details to go.
Matte medium and acrylic working it's way in through the layers...
I had to put some brush splatters in for the ash and other particulate...

And the final, signed piece:

"No Man's Land" - 6x6" - Mixed Media, 2015

There is elemental symbolism and primal allegory intended in the simplicity of this and similar works. I think there is much more depth, more human experience, behind the concept of "No Man's Land" than we give credit in this modern era's understanding of soldiers and war. 
This piece goes beyond the geographical battle field, and beyond physical isolation, or doubt, or displacement, though, those are in there as well.

The white feather, sent aloft, is an English symbol for cowardice. The flame is a universal aspect of life and spirit, verve, hope. It is important here that the eyes, the vision, is darkened, but still looking out. And it is important that the palette is pushed back, in an unidentifiable ash of atmosphere.

Keep the Fire. 

Contact me directly here for any inquiries on the availability of "No Man's Land", or for archival art prints of the work for purchase


27 November 2015

Happy Thanks Giving Season!

Just a brief and positive post for this important and pivotal time of the season, this year - 

This Thanks Giving, I am particularly reflective and grateful for the prominent shades of endurance, patience, strength, emotional stamina, and flexible, learning growth that have all guided inherent and necessary changes in my life, this year, so far.
I am thankful for the trajectory my work is on, for the aid and opportunity I have been given with the work made this year, and for the shows, new clients, creative colleagues, and support from loved ones that have all been involved. Here we go, into 2016...

Freerange 18lb. turkey home brined with all the seasonal trimmings from scratch!

May your holiday and your winter season be warm, loving, supportive, and proactive.
With kindness,