Thursday, May 01, 2014

Smaller Figurative Paintings- Part I

I'll talk a little bit about how I come up with subjects for smaller figurative paintings. My number one source, of course, is pictures I take myself. Sometimes others allow me to use their pictures but for the most part I am interested in my own subjects, which is why I took their pictures in the first place.

Last week I pulled out some pictures from September that I took at the local county fair. Our fair is the largest in Ohio, other than the state fair, and I love to walk around with my camera and photograph people. Sometimes I'll go through my files looking at photos when I only have an hour or so to paint and I want to do a small study. The bright colors and interesting people are what really draw me to the fair and those are the subjects I look for. Editing the digital images in Photoshop and experimenting with different crops allows me to isolate parts of a scene I find interesting. When the image is cropped to the size of the canvas I am using, in this instance a small 6" x 6", I adjust the contrast and run the threshold filter to simplify the composition and see if it works.
Above is the image I came up with and I like the abstract shapes. My goal will be to simplify them even further in the painting process but it's hard to do (for me). I get so bogged down in the details that I often lose the dynamic darks and forget to pump up the lights.

It's OK, and maybe even better, to change your painting when you use a reference of kids that you don't know. The sex of the child wasn't important to the story here so I changed her to a boy. I also moved the boy's arm and gave him a little action. In my version he is actually ready to toss the ball and try to win a goldfish. The incidental things in this painting really make me chuckle. What's up with the large funky elephant  sitting in the background, staring directly at the child? The nondescript carny in the red ball cap seems suspicious. Luckily we have the suggestion of a dad standing beside him, so he is completely safe.

Goldfish Toss, oil on Gessobord™, 6" x 6"

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