Thursday, May 21, 2009

Let, as they say, the spectacle begin

Of late I look back on my photographic records of how a given painting has progressed and I realize I've missed some interesting moments in the journey from Eh to Zed. So I'm gonna shoot the hell out of "Helicopter Ben."


Imagine for a moment if your walls and floor looked like this at home. It'd be like ... like heaven. Spill some red wine? No problem. Got a stray nail in the wall from an old picture? Don't even bother spackling.

If you look closely you can see the words Helicopter Ben written on the back with an arrow pointed up. Close readers will remember how, during my Leesburg period, I became disoriented and painting one of General Lee's eye in the wrong square. The eyeball you see in the middle, below, was exactly one square too low...

Manoman, did that piss me off. Not only because the eye was really good but also because it screwed up my system, I had to re-cover it with black paint, etc. It's been more than two years and it still smarts.

Anyway, to make a long story interminable, I turned it around and then, for reasons that are impossible to communicate photographically, decided that I liked it better flipped 180 degrees. This is HeliBen roughly sketched against a grid.

I must emphasize the idea that this is rough. His right eye (to your left) is particularly problematic, but truth be told I don't really worry about stuff like that too much. Take his right eye, since we're talking about it. I'll almost certainly paint it and screw it up a number of times between Eh and Zed, so why start counting now?

And then there's this:

One of the things you'll hear me say about my paintings is that I never use a brush. That's not technically true. I use a brush for slapping on the gesso (the white primer) at the beginning. And I use a brush to title the painting in, typically, gold. And I also use a brush to white out the grid I used to transfer the image from the photo to the canvas. That's what is going on here.

And, truth be told, it's totally unnecessary. I mean, I end up completely obliterating the canvas that lies beneath the image, so whether I left the grid in or out is meaningless. That said, I like to stare at the thing for a while during the sketch phase and it's more pleasing to the eye without the distraction of the grid.

If you turn your sound all the way up you can hear the Rolling Stones playing in the background. "Shattered" from the "Shine a Light" sound-track.

Me? I'm in tatters.


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