Thursday, May 5, 2011

It's All About the Fence

I have worked every night on this painting for the past 2 weeks. It's crunch time. I haven't taken the time to blog after each session because, well, I might be getting bored with myself. Now that there is finally something notable happening on the canvas, it's time to blog again.

I just came to the realization that for all of the work I have put into this painting, I really don't care for it. It's definitely not anything I would hang in my living room. Zeke, my wise, loving partner, put it into perspective. It's not for the living room, he reminded me. It's to hang on a fence. Right - that makes a huge difference. This creation is for the Fence Festival in Israel. It will hang on a chain link fence surrounding a kibbutz in the western Galilee and people will stroll by it. It's not a museum piece - it's hanging outside with grommets punched into it and subject to the weather and whims of people. Okay, I feel a bit better. But I still do not care for it.

Lest you think I am lying about all of the work I have put into this, Zeke took some photos of me at work, both in front and behind the canvas.

Nice toes, eh? I never knew my love had a foot fetish.

Whether I like this painting or not, I am on a mission to finish this project that captures the places and times of my 16 years with Chipper. I am sort of curious about how folks in Israel will react to this painting with the seemingly unrelated vignettes of times, places and seasons. When they learn it is a celebration of a dog's life, they might think it's a bit weird. Oh well, so be it. It has taken this many years of living and suffering through angst to finally reach the point where I don't care what people think. How liberating. Next thing I know I'll be wearing a purple hat and not caring about that either.

One of the hardest things an artist has to do is come to peace with the realization that something that had been painstakingly and lovingly painted onto the canvas just isn't working and, oh horrors, needs to go. I had a yellow, snow-covered storefront extending to the left of the John Hancock building that was a continuation of the Evanston snow scene to the right of the building. Adorable? I thought so. Working? Nope, it was getting in the way of everything I was thinking about compositionally. Finally, yesterday, I mustered up the courage to paint over it with white. It's gone. No going back.

The area to the left of the building could now be devoted entirely to Eagle Creek. The grassy knoll I had painted previously in this area looked like a grassy takeover of the canvas. Once I stopped thinking of the yellow building as precious, I allowed myself to recognize that this knoll alone was not enough to represent the importance Eagle Creek has played in our lives. I have focused my life around Eagle Creek Reservoir since moving to Indianapolis. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else in the city. Zeke feels the same way and Chipper just loved being on the lake and in the woods.

There is nothing like the reservoir in the autumn. As the sun comes up, the trees on the west side of the lake ignite in color. The first time I saw it while walking the beast early one morning, it took my breath away. The next time I saw it I was prepared. I came with camera in hand, shot a bunch of pictures, and then painted my first complete painting independent of a class. This was back at the beginning of my return to painting and it was a big deal.

Even though I never liked the fence I painted in the foreground, the framed scene hung in our living room for almost 3 years.

We recently replaced the Eagle Creek scene with a more recent abstract called "Wednesday Evenings." All good things must come to an end.

So this over-sized homage to Chipper's life will contain a similar autumn scene of the lake before transitioning to our return to Israel and the desert. I brushed in the beautiful rose hues of the desert mountains the other night and will return to them after finishing the lake scene.

After working on the lake tonight, I decided I do not care for the color and will go back to rework it this weekend. The treeline is fine - I am pleased with that. The reflection in the water is a little too stark. I will soften that as I rework the water. So, while most of the composition is mapped in now, there is still a ton of work to do...and I need this to be finished by one week from tomorrow. This is where I am today after a 2 1/2 hour painting session tonight.
I am still noodling what to do about the tip-toe-standing tree, by the way.

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