This piece appeals to me a lot because it looks like a painting seen fleetingly in a dream, but here you can savor it. The wispy strokes are reminiscent o one of my very favorite painters, the incredible Monet, and the result looks just a bit as if he had dabbled in Surrealism one fine afternoon. Is there a greater colorist than Monet? I’ve thought of writing a post comparing Monet Vs. Manet, and I rather think if Manet had lived, he would have been the greater artist because, for one, he wouldn’t not have confined himself to landscapes, but would have continued to hit home with a central focus on the human condition. However, I doubt he would have rivaled Monet for color. Some of you will know that Francis Bacon once or more than once (he repeated himself a bit) claimed that he wished to have painted a mouth like Monet painted a sunset, but never succeeded. I agree with both his sentiment and conclusion. I always thought it would be great if one could paint from the imagination like Monet. I think I’ve achieved just a bit of that here. Obviously I don’t have the subtle permutations of light and shade and atmospheric effects. I can just say that I aspired in that direction in terms of treating the pigment.
Here we see a sort of one-eyed gargoyle whose embrace contains a pool of water, in which there is the reflection of a passing man, perhaps with a crown, catching his own reflection. He’s a caricature, something like the stop-motion animation puppetry of The Year Without a Santa Claus (y’know, Heat Miser), or The Day Dreamer (based on Hans Christian Andersen tales, and my favorite movie as a young child). His mouth is worth of Homer Simpson or George Jetson, but I like that. Naturalism isn’t important to me. Mood and the overall impression are. One can have a perfectly rendered image without any mood, unless it is a cold, clinical one. But if one can achieve a certain aura, or mental flavor, that interests me.
When I was a teen there were certain songs which for me had mood, something intangible but which nevertheless would reappear when I played the record again (I’m old enough to have collected vinyl records, and it’s a very good thing to have a mid-aged vantage of the world, and have lived through several generations). At the time the bands that had more mood for me were British, though one could certainly make a case for the Los Angeles based “The Doors” first album, so it need not just be foreign, er, for an L.A. boy. A couple standouts, for whatever reason, were Rare Bird’s Hammerhead (which I think few people know) and The Who’s Baba O’Riley (which everyone who knows rock music knows), though NOT The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” which just sounded like regular rock to me and didn’t have that something special. These are probably highly individual impressions which others will not have, and which, however, some will.
Hey, why’s that one-eyed gargoyle have big boobs, and why do you keep having one-eyed monsters? The boobs just appeared, and I was like, “cool, a fertility gargoyle”, and I think the eye represents consciousness, which may be even more effective or redolent if it is just one big eye.
There’s some pink and red shape above the man’s head. I don’t know what it is.
Lastly, a note about this particular style. This one’s fun for me, and this piece came off surprisingly quickly at about 4 hours. I could have tinkered more, but I thought that might compromise the balance between roughness and cohesion. I don’t want to get bogged down in tedium or illustration. Here, by “illustration” I mean going through the motions of rendering a preconceived form, for example, drawing some elaborate crown in perspective and making angular little jewels on it. It’s not necessary, and artists from Titian to Francis Bacon and Picasso knew this well.
So, for example, if I do a piece in B&W and then want to put it into color, there’s a process of comparatively uninspired labor involved. But here there’s really none of that. Some of the strokes you see are the first ones I laid down. This is only really possible on this level because of the computer. The result looks a bit like pastels, which I’ve worked with. But when you work with pastel not only is it very fragile (if it’s soft pastel) or unwieldy (if it’s hard pastel) but very difficult to make changes to, especially with anything approaching full opacity. But digitally, I can just change colors, bump up the opacity to 100%, and draw right over a fully vibrant color, no matter what color it is. No erasing necessary. This allows really a lot of flexibility and the possibility of making instantaneous changes.
And what if I try this exact formula again? I probably want to change my palette to get away from all the sky blues I’ve used recently. Come to think of it, this technique is not so different from the one I used in #9 – #11, and yet the result is very different. Let me try another and see what I come up with.
Here’s all 19 pieces in the series so far in a slideshow.
Or, if you prefer, you can see them in a click-through gallery:
To see other posts about other pieces in this series, go here.
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