Story Behind The New Painting: Village Celebration

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It’s been a difficult time for me to be creative since my car crash, essentially, it’s non existent. Imagery and concepts are not forthcoming. At best, I dabble with creating more interesting textural surfaces than in the past as that is all I am able to do for limited amounts of time.

That being the case, I’ve had more time to revisit some of my paintings and do small repairs on them. For the last year I’ve been walking by my painting named Village Celebration and being bothered by something about the entire scene. Finally, I took the leap and decided the problem was that the figures did not have enough variety in the skin tones.

Whether or not to color pictograms is a difficult decision for me. In reality, the pictogram figures I add paint to look pretty much as they exist on the rock faces. I try to recreate the pictograms as they are in order to record and preserve their beauty and vitality. I played with darkening and lightening the skin tones but was not impressed with the preliminary results.

The colors of the pictograms in the initial Village Celebration painting are the same reddish ochre as on the rock bluff. So I guess this is where artistic license comes in. I decided the painting needed to receive color and I would deal with the bent over woman shape that looked like a blotch on the original painting. This was easier said than done!  I decided to challenge myself and work with new media.

Over the course of a few days, I played with casein, coloring pencils, gouache and finally opaque acrylics. I learnt that I do not really care for casein on this type of surface. I struggled with color intensity and placement of color, both of which have never been problematic for me (foggy brain still). The woman who is having her hair cleaned presented the most intense challenge in that she actually was portrayed in this manner on the rock but her shape was that of a globule. So I decided to put a shawl on her with coloring pencils and in my mind’s eye imagined how a shawl would drape over her body.

Deciding when to leave a painting alone is an art in itself. After a few more days of looking at the new and hopefully improved Village Celebration, I ascertained that I could do no more to it or I would ruin the spontaneous look and feel that it still retained.

I am enjoying the colors I chose and I think I did improve it. The important thing is that I learnt a lot from reworking the painting and I was willing to lose the painting if it did not work out. Coming from a place of audacity is challenging but it’s worth the lessons. Let me know what you think. The video will document the process I went through to completion.