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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Dare I Hope?!

Having gotten my new glasses, out of necessity not desire right now, since I kinda caused the breakage of my pair I've had almost 3 years, and seeing the Mary Pratt show has made me yearn for painting again. Photography is all fine and dandy but really, it does not hold the thrill painting held for me.

I ended up having to get bifocals. I have worn glasses for distance since age 11, grade 6. I am blind as a bat, can see maybe 2 ft without them. Alas, over 40 my eyes began to change and I could no longer see close with my glasses and especially not with contacts. Therefore, I have arrived into that "middle age/old age" glasses needers' category as a brand new wearer of bifocals. Do I like them? Not every glance I take. They are challenging but I put them on with confidence and positiveness like the optometrist suggested. After 2 days of wearing them, if it never gets better, I could live with how they work if I had to, I wouldn't have much choice anyway lol!

It'll be quite a text to see if I am able to paint again. Basically, if I could see my reference, I couldn't see my painting surface or mixing plate of paint. However, we'll see. I am determined though it may in the end not be up to me.

Once I finish the large drawing I am doing, which seemed possible but this past weekend and the one before, I got no time in on it really, I have a painting planned to begin. The inspiration came from a photo I took of my daughter at my birthday dinner at a Mexican restaurant near my Dad's. I loved the light from the window, though the cell did take away a lot of the info in the light areas and it did lessen the contrast, the photo had a certain appeal. There is one issue in it that I feel weakens the composition, the arm that goes off the picture plane on our left, her right. I will need to see what may work with that in the drawing stage. If I had intended to take the photo for reference for a painting, I'd have put thought into that better.

What I want for the painting is a bokeh like background, not in focus as it would more be seen by the eye as well as take literally a back seat yet hints of that it is, a bar and chairs and light and bottles detectable as an environment. It may even need a backing off of strong colour, some desaturation since I do not want the colours in the background to be as distinct as her fighting her for visual attention. Also, I want the mid ground, like the plate on the wall, to be not high detail but that there not be this huge jump from a focused figure into a highly blurred background. I want more detail to read in the objects behind her. Of course, she is the focus, namely her face and eyes. To help me work this, I have played with 3 variations on the reference photo. They aren't perfect but they'll keep me focused on Not making the background detailed. I will most likely need to render the mid ground blurred and simple shapes then pick and choose how much detail needs to be brought up slightly. As well, it will take some skill (and luck) to get it all to balance so it doesn't look like foreground, mid ground and background are 3 separate paintings, it will need to visually balance and morph well. This'll just be worked out instinctively as I paint as I'm not one to create a perfect finished reference.

There are blown out areas in the highlights, missing all kinds of subtle information, such as down her arm, as a cell will do (if I had Known, I'd have used my DSLR and taken the shot in RAW) but, I hope to be able to paint the figure not so much highly realistically but that in the end the shapes and values will be much more than just "realistic rendering". The effect in the reference is a big ole' intrusive focal stealing white forearm. These kinds of things will need some attention in the painting. One of the reasons for it appearing so focal is that it is the closest thing to the camera of her, therefore some consideration in the drawing stage needs to be taken with it. The rays from the lights are a creation of the cell phone too, not sure if they will be included. If they are, it will be because I like the effect, the dreaminess, and only if I feel they add something to the painting as a whole.

John, my partner and a painter (much better than I lol!), pointed out to me a shape in the background, the 2 ceiling panel lights and the round light below, as well as the oval speckled area below (the bottles) look like a beard - add together and they could create a sort of face - objects that in any way visually create a "face" are usually best to avoid duplicating in your painting was his advice, so I will take that advice, it is good.

I will be doing this on a panel, in the long vertical format that I so love but rarely do lol! It won't be a huge painting, the head will be smaller than life size, which suits the way I paint.

Below, I have 3 rough reference images. The original photo, one to give me a blurred background and one for a bit more detail to the mid ground. I won't be beginning this painting till next Spring unless by some miracle I finish my drawing early. There is no guarantee my painting will come back but I believe with my glasses situation, hence vision situation corrected, it has half a chance :-) If it proves to still be elusive, well.....there's always photography and pencils.

If this painting works, I have a more difficult one of my son ready to go from years back too.

original shot

blurred background

semi blurred mid ground

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