Thursday, May 26, 2011

Painting No. 114 - Market Street Bridge (Take Two)

10" x 8" - Oil on Canvas Board
Available for Purchase

This post is a little longer than normal but here goes.

In March I had the pleasure of going to New York for a long weekend with my Dad. I had never been (I know) but really wanted to make the trip because there was a good Hopper exhibit at The Whitney. I've read about The Whitney for years and the fact that they had so many Hoppers there was too much of a draw. Thankfully for me Dad funded the trip and we were off.

I had been looking closely at Hopper's paintings and could not understand why it looked like the canvas was almost bare in spots. It looked kind of scrapped on and in a book it was hard to tell what it really looked like. When we got to the museum the crowds were pretty light and I was able to take my time and really look at each canvas for a long time. After looking carefully at each one it seemed like he painted it on really thin with a color that was darker than the local color. He then went on top of that with the actual color but all this funk was left showing through.

People think his paintings are super tight and from a distance they look that way but when you get up on them they're crazy. There are almost no straight lines and parts of them are almost abstract expressionist.

This was sort of mind bending for me. My technique up to this point had been to add paint, layer by layer, to shape the final product. This worked alright on the fruit paintings but I could never, ever get happy with my landscapes and especially the urban landscapes.

Also, once I got back I looked through all my books again and really noticed his painting New York Pavements. I could see that he painted every bit of the black on first and then just scrapped the gray of the building on later. No building of layers, no indecision, no struggling with it. He just blocked it out and then barely filled it in. I finally understood how pre-meditated it all was.

Which brings us to No. 114. I had recently sold No. 106 and was happy with it overall but something still felt off. I had a 10" x 8" board sitting there and thought - what the heck, I'll just try it again. I blocked in the darkest darks and then painted the rest of it with a dark version of whatever the local color was. It looked absolutely awful but I knew what I was doing and let it dry. It was pre-meditated and ugly.

So then I carefully went back in and laid the "real" color over that underpainting. Again, I knew exactly what I wanted to put where and just did it. With all my other paintings I was doing a lot of "thinking" on the canvas and this is a whole other way of working.

I was happy with the result and feel better about this one vs. 106. I like them both but this is how I wanted to express myself and it felt so good to finally be able to speak what I was hearing (visually).

Phew. Needless to say this has altered my whole approach so the next batch starts to build off this revelation and hopefully take it to another level.

3 comments:

  1. This is an awesome post - I love hearing about your process! I'm so glad you had the chance to see Hopper's work in person. This painting is gorgeous--keep up the great work bro!!

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  2. Wow, I agree with Mere--I love hearing your thoughts on the process. I think all of your are is wonderful and you are just getting better and better. How fun!!

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