Monday, December 5, 2011
Fun With Props
I like to think that on the whole, usually I am a very decisive person. You know--most of the time I make up my mind relatively quickly, generally speaking. When I make up my mind, I will almost always go with it, seven, maybe eight out of ten times- 'cause that's how I roll.
The painting at the top of the page is an example of that.
I have always liked wood piles. Here in Maine, we burn wood for fuel, not fun. I've split and stacked countless cords of wood. Seeing a long pile of wood stacked beside someone's barn or garage always makes me think of the smell of a wood stove, the smoke gently wafting out of a brick chimney. The bracing cold air of Winter. Ice. Snowdrifts. Having my mailbox repeatedly crushed by some half-asleep plow driver hyped up on his 85th cup of coffee.
But I digress...
What I like about woodpiles is the way the new split wood reflects sunlight. New wood has a kind of golden glow about it. I've long wanted to do a painting of a wood pile, but I never had just the right amount of inspiration. To those of us who paint, wanting to is a long way from needing to paint a scene. So anyway, last week I was out in my garage when I noticed what I thought was a neat sight with the way the sunlight coming through the window lit up the woodpile with a warm glow. I also liked the way the cool light from the North window off-set the warm light. That's it! I thought, I have to paint it. You know, because I'm decisive like that.
I sketched the scene, really just thinking about the play of color temperatures, and light against dark, and then I set my drawing aside for a few days to finish up another project. In the ensuing days, I thought about my sketch. "What if I had a person doing something, instead of just showing sunlight on a woodpile?"... "And what if he was, like, an old guy?"... "Yeah, with one of those old-man plaid shirt coat things and rubber boots?" I was digging it. Except I didn't have an old man on hand, nor an old man plaid shirt-jacket. Thank goodness, I did have rubber boots. I called my beautiful partner Ellen when she was out shopping for my Christmas gift at the recycling center, and asked her if she would stop at a yard sale or something and see if she could get an old plaid shirt. As usual, she got just what I needed.
The next day, there I was, posing out in my garage.
Now, that was all well and good to get the drawing done,
But, I really wanted to capture that light. I had to wait a few days until we got a sunny day, but when we did I hauled my gear back into the garage and set up.
By the way, for those who claim I have a stick up my ass-- here's your proof.
I din't have an old man to paint, but I did have me. I kind of modeled the guy on an elderly gentleman who lives near me. I kinda wish I went and asked him to pose, but he's ninety years old and I didn't think he would be up to it. So, I whitened my hair, and made my ears big, and voila! and old duff. The rest of the way was just trying to get the colors right. I even set up my old-man props in my studio for the final touches.
I do enjoy doing stuff like this, it makes for a fun day at the office. The best part about this painting is now I have an old man plaid jacket-shirt thing to go with my rubber boots!
I'll fit the part soon enough...