The Process: Day 3
A few set-backs today. I woke up with a "bad neck" and got started later than I wanted to. I had to medicate which fuzzed me up a bit and caused me to work slower. Then this afternoon I heard a weird sound coming from what I thought was the road. As I walked up my driveway I could tell the sound was coming from my well; it was the sound of forceful water hitting the top of the cover. I turned the pump off, returned to the well and removed the soggy insulation that I had wrapped around the well head last winter. I discovered, by way of multiple stings, that there was a bee hive buried deep inside the insulation. A nice puffy hand will take your mind off a hurting neck every time - and I think it may have even healed me because now that I am in for the night - I feel pretty good. Or was it the delightful bath I had buck nekkid in my cool creek that did the trick? Either way, Im ready to relax and review todays painting progress.
I mostly worked on the peacock. The painting is in a very awkward stage right now, and I have written about that before. It is in these times where doubt tends to creep in, but my minds eye has such a clear vision of how this should be that I didnt panic when I had to stop for the day with so many rough areas unresolved. The tail of the peacock is a labor intensive section. I started with black which makes it look too strong for the rest of the painting right now. I will shade that down a bit in some areas, but that background will be critical for the linear work that is the part of the feather thats airy. Somehow Ive got to figure out how I am going to morph the tail into the water...it won't be under the water like Flannery's legs, it will float on top.
Speaking of floating on top, I've decided to have the forearm crutches that Flannery used to do just that. I downloaded a good clean photo of that kind of crutch from a medical supply company for reference. I think it will be tricky to have them in the water and know what you are looking at -I mean, if a viewer is not familiar with Flannery, I still need them to know there are crutches in the water.
I use my computer all day looking up photos of things. You can see a reference image of a peacock on the screen as well as my layabout do nothing Trouter.
Here we have yet another shiftless creature. Both have been in trouble with me today for chasing away the doves from the feeder. You would not believe the grooves in my deck that are from the dogs charging off after doves and squirrels and falling leaves.
Working back to front on the tail, I will refine several times the edges of green and brown and black. The black and white striping of the peacock is a lot like my own hen Vera's feathers. I like the face but its not quite where I want it to be. The body of the peacock is mostly done, it will need finessing at the end but its about right. Once all the turquoise feather lines get painted in that tail and the water is deepened and tricked out the painting will be back in balance.
Here you can see the rough underpainting of Flannery's hands. This is very "illustratory" as human hands are about as big as the face they belong to. Go ahead, try it. Put your hand on your face with the heel on the chin and fingers extended to the hairline. Open your hand and you will see it mostly covers your face. Flannery's head is about 5 times too large for reality -but I like it that way because it emphasizes the container for her incredible brain, her thoughts and her literary gift. This is a device that you see in african art often. I am also reminded of the work of Romare Bearden who in his jazz portraits, emphasized hands because they were important, making the music.
Thinking about Flannery's writing today I arrived at what I am going to do with the background. In the areas outside of the cone of grace, there will be demons and devils. They will be barely perceptible in the end. That's one of the neat things about acrylic painting that could never have happened with gouache, which was the paint I used as an illustrator. I will be able to paint the devils - and paint them fully and well - and then add layers of QNAG (explained in the previous post) until they fade into a pattern only to be recognized upon closer examination. I love the idea of the painting having a life beyond the first look -where things materialize and the content becomes as rich and layered as the surface of the wood.
I remembered today a little room in Barcelona Spain, where the great architect Gaudi slept as he worked on his masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, the great sand castle cathedral. The little room with a single cot was located in the basement of the cathedral. It got to the point where he didnt even bother to go home at night. The work was all that mattered to him. Sometimes when I am working on a project like this and I have time pressure I feel like I am living in an alternate universe and can identify with Gaudi being so single mindedly focused.
Even though I have the well problem to deal with tomorrow, I hope to have a very productive day and be able to show you some resolution in the tail and water tomorrow night.
Thanks for joining me!