Monday, August 9, 2010

The Great Gallery II

Painting 1.28 The Great Gallery II. I wanted to revisit the subject that got me into painting again in the first place. At the time that I finished the first painting of this wall, I didn't realize that what I was painting was part of a much larger mural. I would like to learn more about the history of this painting as it seems that the section on the left was painted at a later time than the rest of the mural, based on the fact that the left surface was only revealed after the outer sandstone layer collapsed. This is further suggested by the fact that the two figures on the far left have their bottom sections broken off, meaning that there has definitely been some collapse since the original painting was made. One new thing that I tried to tackle in this painting were the crumbly bits of sandstone on the left. I struggled with this in 1.17, where there were piles of broken stone beneath the arch that I left out of the painting because I wasn't sure how to make them fit in with the style of the rest of the painting. I want them to almost look like they are part of the wall here, but separate from the ground. This ended up taking considerable time to complete, not just because of the size of the painting but the fact that I had to make contact paper stencils for each figure to get the clean lines and uniform washed out color that I wanted.

Giclee Print

Swinnerton Arch

Painting 1.27, Swinnerton Arch, Monument Valley, Arizona. I tried to put something other than a blue-blue gradient in the background. I didn't think that wispy, painted clouds would stand up next to the solid shapes of the stones so I painted solid looking clouds. I only wish that I had put some on the other side of the sky to balance it out a bit. Other than that, it was a relatively quick and simple painting. I need to start looking for a new way to depict my subject again because I'm starting to get a little tired of increasingly literal translations of a picture. This is showing in the quality of the paintings, especially here where I've started to copy the picture that I'm looking at rather than attempting to depict a three dimensional object. This is particularly bad in the top left corner of the arch. What is that up there? It certainly doesn't look like a three dimensional chunk of sandstone. It looks terribly flat when it should appear to loom over the viewer.

The advantage that painting has over photography is that you can pick and choose what you depict in order to make the scene more understandable to the viewer. When photographing a feature like this, you'll have to move around to find the right angle where the most features are visible so that the viewer of the photo will be able to piece together in his mind what it would feel like to stand in the place where the photo was taken. Even then, some burning and dodging is necessary the highlight and correct the photo to make it more understandable. In a painting, you can simplify shapes and add highlights that give the illusion of depth. This is something that I've failed to do here, and I'll need to work on it.

Giclee Print