I actually drew this quite some time ago, late one night while listening to this, when these four paid a visit. They seemed friendly enough, if not very talkative. They have, from left to right, deer, owl, crow and rabbit skulls, and I always thought of them as friendly guardians of some other plain of existence.
This is just pencil in my sketchbook, which I'm afraid is getting rather filled up.
This is the first larger-scale oil painting I've completed in a while, thanks to things like working and being a semi-responsible semi-adult. But here it is, 34 X 40 inches, oil on canvas. Its name is Bloodgood. Why? I was watching an extremely stupid game show and the contestant's last name was Bloodgood (she was not smarter than a fifth grader, FYI), and I thought it was a good name--far better in fact, than this particular woman deserved--and this was the image that sprang to mind when I thought about it. Strange how things work out.
It's far more graphic than I usually work, which comes with its own set of difficulties, like keeping lines and color areas clean and clear and sharp, and using rulers to make sure lines are straight and match up properly. Creating the large background areas was also a challenge, as the color had to remain consistent. The pattern shapes were made using a stencil.
I'm happy with the result, and especially with the lollipop trees to the left, there. Usually, I have the image of the completed painting in my mind from the outset, and I work until I reach that image. Bloodgood was one of those paintings that worked out very easily, coming to its conclusion without much stress.
I very much like ovals. They're instantly decorative and pretty, and there's something charmingly old-fashioned about them. They make me think of cameos and lockets and old photographs. I think it's a lovely format. Oval stretchers and canvases, however, can be quite expensive and hard to stretch.
So instead of buying oval canvases, which cost $25 each, I decided to experiment and bought a package of six wooden embroidery hoops of the same size (6 by 12 in. diameter) for about $13 in total from Create For Less, which is a pretty cool crafting site. Many hoops are plastic these days, but they still make wood ones. Embroidery hoops are simple to use, and for painting I recommend tightening the screw with pliers to keep the fabric as taut as possible. Even with this extra tightening, though, expect the fabric to buckle slightly, especially after priming. There isn't really a way around it.
I originally only planned five of these oval paintings, though I do have an extra hoop kicking around, so I may do another in the future. These are made with scraps of fabric from other paintings and projects (like that dress I said I'd make like two years ago). Being small, they were rather painstaking, but they are easily portable and very lightweight--they can be hung on a tack.
I find the embroidery hoops to go well with the concepts I've been working with in the Home body of work--domesticity, tradition, and safety, as well as a nod to children's book illustrations. I also got to give each figure a carefully planned-out set of clothing and accessories.
From the top:
Father's Daughter was the first one I thought of, and is admittedly a bit hipster-ish. But I like it anyway. The deer refers to my dad again, but I think I'm beginning to separate deer into Dad deer and Me deer.
Next is Rabbit Eater, the only male in the bunch. So called because he's going to eat that rabbit. This is the same subject known in other works as "Beast Boy."
Of A Feather is a double self-portrait, and while it would be nice and simple to say that each figure represents a side of myself, that is not the case. Two aspects, maybe, but even then, that's not quite accurate. I think it's really just a nice tea party of narcissism.
Everything Must Someday Die features a cute little skullhead. I kind of picture her in the "goldengrove" of Gerard Manley Hopkins' "Spring & Fall" , except that instead of weeping for the passing of time and the concept of death, she's joyfully part of it.
Finally comes The Smell of Decay, with an exterminator, looking grim and destructive. As exterminators do.
I plan to hang these as a set--they look better together than alone. More big paintings coming soon!
Long ago, like, sometime in July, I introduced the the hoodie as a staple of my painting symbolism. Here are some more of them. These, like The Protector, The Discovery of a False Moon, and the other paintings on patterned cloth, these three are part of a body of work I call the Home project, which I discussed in the same posting in which I discussed The Protector as being a study of origins, so to speak, exploring the symbols developed in childhood and how they inform life as an adult. The images concentrate on memory as a space, with the objects within that space taking on a symbolic existence, standing in for people, concepts and emotions. HINT: The hoodies are all me. I wear hoods a lot.
From the top:
The Homestead, oil and collage on patterned cotton. Featured here is a homey bird, a plump, goose-like fowl that symbolizes being at home and being content there. We also have more floating trees, which are less involved with symbolism and more a reflection of how I remember treed areas--I can visually recollect the canopies, but often the trunks get forgotten. Basically this is what it looks like in my head when I remember areas with trees. I'm not weird you're weird. Anyway, incorporated into the image are scans of nineteenth-century photographs. (The originals are mounted on a thick cardboard, and I didn't like the idea of using the originals anyway) The photographs came in an album as a gift, and I am completely unrelated to any of the sitters. The painting is about the concept of home, what makes a home and what happens to a home when it is left and its inhabitants forgotten.
The Reunion, oil and collage on patterned cotton. I still don't know how I feel about the name. Besides just being a hoodie, this one is a skullheaded hoodie, or a skullhoodie. I amuse myself. The general reaction, when I showed this, was "Oh, how cute, a little fawn--WHY DOES SHE HAVE A SKULL FACE THAT'S FRIGHTENING." Collage elements are silver leaves, bought on a whim from an art supply store. This is something of a companion piece to the painting below, and deals with the idea of reconnecting with the past version(s) of oneself as a result of introspection, or as a link to personal understanding.
The Bone Gatherer, oil on patterned cloth. Hoodies and deer again. This is kind of the precursor to The Reunion, about delving into, and at times confronting, one's past as a way to figure things out for the future. It's the same hoodie, too, although in The Reunion she seems to have lost her boots. I'm quite pleased with the way the birch trees came out--they have many a layer of white and purple-black glaze.
So basically, the Home project is something of an attempt to communicate to the outside world what it looks like in my head; these are, in a way, still shots of how I remember and imagine (and some combination thereof) things. I'm surprised, in a way, but also quite pleased, with the fact that I am finally able to create these images. There are more Home pieces in the works, though I've been shamefully remiss about my painting. This whole having-a-job thing really cuts into my painting time...
Due to the fact that I have not yet installed a decent photo editing program onto my new computer, I can't upload the new photos of the newest (complete) paintings without their having a weird white space where I've cropped the pictures. So here is the latest of the old photos, a painting called The Protector. As we saw in The Discovery of a False Moon, there are some floating trees. Unlike some of the other symbols, I don't really know why I like the floating trees so much.
The figure on the left is a Hoodie. I started drawing these hooded silhouette girls about a year ago, and they are essentially symbols of myself--shorthand self-portraits, I guess. The deer-headed man is my dad, because I associate him with deer. Disney's Bambi was my favorite movie as a child, and Bambi's family structure basically mirrored my own at the time. Therefore my dad has antlers. I also was under the impression that Bambi started life as a girl and grew up to be male. Anyway, deer and hoodies, as well as some other symbols, show up later in the body of work that includes The Discovery of a False Moon, the Huntington paintings, and Croton Point, that is collectively called Home. The concept behind Home is memory and personal symbolism, or the way that children, and later adults, use specific images and objects to inform more nebulous aspects of their lives. For me, for example, deer with antlers are symbols of my father. Home is still in the works, with a few more paintings planned. I seem to have three veins in which I work: the Home style, sort of soft and faded, with dense patterning and natural settings, the medieval style that has broad areas of jewel tones, and a bright pink and glittery style that I haven't unveiled yet (mwahaha) that I'm calling the "trashy" style. There are similarities between the three modes, and the symbols found in Home appear in the others, and I think to an extent they each reflect an aspect of my person.
The Protector is oil and neo-megilp glaze (yes, that is really what it is called and I have no idea why). Neo megilp was called "atmosphere in a bottle" by a painting teacher of mine and she was quite right. It creates a soft, filmy glaze and it dries fast. I love stand oil, but the speed at which this stuff dries is amazing. The patterns on the figures were traced from a piece of wrapping paper.
So as soon as I can figure out/feel like getting the other pictures together, I'll put them up. Till then...
;There was a time when you couldn't pay me to do a landscape painting. They seemed like the default painting subject, after vases of flowers and bowls of fruit. Even the standard naked lady was more interesting. I grew up in the Hudson Valley in southern New York, home to the Hudson River School of painters, who, in the romantic period of the nineteenth century, sought to celebrate the sublime by painting immense landscapes of the area, and of other grand vistas around the USA. Needless to say, they were the subject of many a school trip. So maybe that was what turned me off to landscape painting. There is also, to be honest, something distasteful to me about the macho, plein-air painter swaggering around the countryside.
To be fair, though, when you live in a place as beautiful as the Hudson Valley, I suppose landscapes become part of you.
Even if you don't live here, landscapes are part of you.
There are, after all, landscapes everywhere.
Even inside your head. Especially inside your head.
It's something I've been thinking about--the landscapes that exist inside the psyche, how feelings and memories can be imagined and depicted as places, and how places or images of places can evoke certain feelings. Typically, for me, these places are represented by images of the natural(ish) world, usually involving trees and expanses of land. Lately, I've been particularly liking fields. Particularly fields bordered by dark trees, which is likely owed to the fact that all the fields around here are bordered by trees, this being the deciduous-forest-covered Eastern seaboard. Around here, woods are the normal natural state, and fields are something of a break from that. There may be a psychological reason for this, too, with fields representing the known and the visible, and the woods representing the unknown and the hidden (something that may have informed the Woods series as well).
The top image is a painting I made in 2009 called The Discovery of a False Moon. It is based on a photograph I took on a field in New Paltz, NY, where I went to school. It was daylight, and the clover was blooming. There was a university building across the street with a clock that lit up at night, and at first glance resembled the full moon. Lots of stand oil, very shiny. Next is a typical view off my back porch in early September. You can see the Hudson River in a small silver sliver (say that 5 times fast) near the middle. Next is a shot of Croton Point Park in Croton, NY. The park sticks out into the water, and there is a big artificial hill that is actually a capped garbage dump. Since the soil is not deep, no trees can grow, and so the land on the hill is completely different than the surrounding land, this big, arid bump surrounded by woods. You can see the normal ecosystem across the water. The last two shots were taken about a week ago in Rockwood Hall, which is part of the Rockefeller Preserve in Sleepy Hollow, NY. Early evening, as the park was closing and all the deer were out. They look up for pictures if you call them.
What I like about all of these images is their composition. It's classically bad. If you notice, they all have a horizon line in just about the middle of the image. Apparently, you aren't supposed to do that. But the photographs came out that way unintentionally (swear). And anyway, that's how vistas are seen by humans--there's above and there's below and they meet in the middle. Therefore False Moon and other, later paintings have a horizon line than generally bisects the painting. Later landscapes also have the phenomenon of the floating trees, which I will get into later.