Temptation: My Latest Painting
by, 08-15-2010 at 12:06 AM (2203 Views)
Already I am back with my latest artistic effort. This painting came together more rapidly than any I have worked on for quite some time. Two weeks total from start to finish: not bad for a painting that measures 80x44"... especially when one considers the unbearable heat and humidity in my studio as of recent.
I had initially intended a clothed figure... something perhaps based upon the theme of Isabella and the Pot of Basil (Boccaccio and Keats) but all of the preliminary drawings in this direction were lame at best. After several days of frustration I decided simply to return to a theme I was somewhat comfortable with... a single nude... perhaps "Eve" I thought... with a potted plant and an apple. I reasoned with myself that once the work got under way, I could then make certain formal decisions... pushing myself in terms of color or of abstract design... or some other aspect so that the work wouldn't just be more of the "same old same old".
At some point during the drawing stage, I happened to grab one of my books on Michelangelo off the shelf... a detailed look at the Last Judgment to be exact. One thing I have marveled at is just how the greatest masters always surprise you and inspire you... no matter how well you think you may know them. I was simply blown away by the manner in which Michelangelo's figures twist and turn in space... thrusting toward the viewer or rushing away. There was nothing quite like this before Michelangelo... a little quite like this after.
Looking around at the accumulated body of my work I recognized that in almost all of the instances there was very little or no complex twisting or torquing of the figures... and almost all of the the figures stood or sat parallel to the picture plane. In part this was intentional... as I have been really building off earlier traditions: Byzantine, Persian, Medieval, and Early Renaissance... as well as Indian, Japanese, Arabic, and other Non-Western art. I decided, nevertheless, that I would add... that I "needed" a second figure... and one which displayed a greater complexity of gesture and form. I intended this second figure to be "Eve" while I would change the standing figure into a male "Adam".
I limited myself to the use of a warm, analogous color scheme intended to heighten the warmth and eroticism of the subject. I employed warm reddish copper leaf as well as gold. I also made the conscious decision to avoid the use of black... which in most of my previous works in this series has been a key compositional element. Within a matter of days the background was done... and I was on to the figures. I probably spent more time on these two figures than on any previously. They are clearly stylized... owing much to not only the distortions of Michelangelo and Rubens... but also the Mannerists... who were so influential upon me in art school. There is also something of William Blake and the wide-eyed figures of George Tooker... but ultimately these influences have been digested and synthesized until they simply are how I draw. At a certain point the "temptation" theme moved away from the traditional "Adam and Eve" to two female figures... with whatever connotations that may inspire.:o
Anyway... here are the results:
Again the materials used are pastel, acrylic paint, gold and copper leaf on paper, 80x44".
Thanks for looking!