31 January 2016

Building Up "The Safe Place" - Painting Process from Roots to Rendering

Sometimes the term 'build' is incredibly apt in describing the process through which a concept and all its integral, multifaceted parts, come together into a cohesive image.

As artists, we might more often tend to use words like "develop" or "compose" a concept, a composition, and these terms are accurate, certainly. But this painting, as well as a lot of other recent works I've been working on, have been "built" more than anything, and a large part of that has to do with the finer points in the way they were constructed, from start to finish.

This piece, "The Safe Place", was quite directly built out of the 11x14" space which it is placed in on the 400 lb. hot press Arches watercolor paper.

I designed my domain to work in, I roughly knocked out a thumbnail for guidance, I arranged my reference material, and I built this tree from the ground up, in one week, start to finish.

Here's the process, with some breakdown description, from that start to finish week:

This is what the start of any idea looks like on paper, for me. Loose and fast; shapes in value within a frame.

If you follow any of my social media posts for process, or have seen my blog before, you'll recognize this as my typical rough sketch and/or thumbnail approach.

And the following is the immediate result of choking back on the soft graphite pencil, letting the relaxed, dancerly strokes find my vision through rhythm, internal contour, and layered structure. Building it up into a state where I can go back in and start better defining the constructed forms with committed, articulate line weight variation and swatches of value definition:

Click the image for larger view

A close up of the woman's form to see a little more of the tonal detail I smudged in and carved out with an eraser.

I built up the tree as you see it above, more into the rest of the branches and roots, detailing shapes and lighting with rather abstract, calligraphic line work through tone and erasing of tone.

And then, once the drawing was certain, I stopped pushing it at that stage, in that medium, and switched over to watercolor washes to give me a sense of the color palette and how I wanted to paint it:

Simple reds and greens.

Building up:

Acrylics, matte medium, colored pencils...

And then lastly, the little details, before a final coal of matte medium, and spray UV varnish coats...Some serious drying and handling time...

Click the image for larger view
Click the image for larger view

Click the image for larger view

With a custom framing job from my local art store that I am quite pleased to patron. It's great when you can support small, local businesses and receive not only solid work, but a good professional rapport.

“The Safe Place” alludes to a Native American iteration of Woman as man-kind’s bridge to Nature, how she is humanity’s opportunity to cultivate a close relationship with the Wild, and how through her, the raw self runs free. Men, with their own unique value, take heed of woman’s distinctive bond to Nature in its ever-changing force. 
This piece is an interpretation of the place, the sacred space, where she might need to go to be alone, to be unburdened, uncovered, unseen by her male counterpart, and uncaught, as well. She rests, in the safe place, in the circle, at the foot at a strong, universal icon for the natural world. There is nothing else but the tree, and her.

"The Safe Place" is currently showing - February 5th - 28th 2016 - with two other original works of mine as part of a group exhibition showcasing local women artists in the theme of the feminine story - girls and women's empowerment, perspectives, and beauty - #ExtremeLove for #grlsgrlsgrls at The Discerning Eye Center for the Arts - the DECA Building, Lancaster, PA.

Also, art prints of the original painting are available to order HERE

For any questions or comments, contact me directly HERE

In the meantime,
Be well in this winter,


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