Monday, March 16, 2009

Looking Forward


With my newest paintings, as I have mentioned in previous posts, I am working on a series of figures. This one is "Looking Forward", a smaller oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches. My goal was to place a prominent figure in a landscape that felt like one of my own paintings, and to do it in the most interesting way I could think of. There is a kind of mood with this figure and it's placement that I was going for, the piece acts as somewhat of a portrait, but with a feeling of anticipation for things to come. In my mind, she wants to move on from this place in order to grow, to start the hero's journey as in mythology. The model is 19 years old, and I remember myself at that age, my greatest desire was to leave the familiarity of home to explore the possibilities that awaited me. Hence the title.
For the painting's execution, I started with a quick sketch of the figure. I had taken my model (Michelle) to a neighborhood around Banker's Hill and Hillcrest in San Diego for a photo shoot. The light was particularly bright that day, with the sun scorching down on us. As I worked up my sketches later, I manipulated the figure drawing around in photoshop with the landscape sketch. I labored the precise compositional placement I wanted, with the figure at the end of the driveway, then enlarged my drawing to canvas. The whole underpainting was laid in with raw umber on a gray gessoed canvas, then I painted the figure. I even lit a plaster cast of a Roman sculpture to paint from, just to get the light on the head just right. I wanted a crispness with the form, a sense of reality, but slightly stylized in the manner of my sketch. The color harmony worked out well with the landscape behind her, there is a sense of a slightly hazy atmosphere going back into the distant hills, and the house at the end of the driveway is in sharp contrast. There is allot of foliage behind her, and I tried to treat it with the stylization of my own. I love the way the Renaissance painters would paint trees and foliage, or the manner in which more recent painters like Grant Wood treated plant life, I want to play around more with these kind of natural and organic forms in subsequent paintings. Over the years, I have painted many architectural forms. Including the figure forces me to add not just an organic and more naturalistic element to my work, but a more psychological element as well.

15 comments:

Jesse said...

I'm looking forward to seeing more of this figurative work.

william wray said...

leaping into the future!

jeremie lederman said...

well well, what a huge leap. This is a really sharp piece.

I agree with all the good stuff you already said about it :)

The heat of the day is really embedded in the colors.

awesome

David Lobenberg said...

Just fabulous. I really like the contours and lighting on the teen. I rank this on the same high level as the painting you did with you looking into the restaurant.

Hattermad said...

This is really, really cool, in that you've leapt away from the comfort zone and landed pretty damn well.

The elbow directing the eye up the drive...cool.

I do have to say, with the brightness of the day and the light so strong on the house, the figure seems to be in the shade...perhaps her shirt should balance out the house and be lightened up...I am of course assuming she's got a good ol' wife beater on...

My eye just keeps landing on that and wants it to be as prominent as the house...

tonypetersart said...

Thanks Jesse, more on the way!

tonypetersart said...

Hey Bill, glad you like. I'm anxious now to see those Wyeths at the Brandywine.

tonypetersart said...

Jeremie,

Thanks dude, it's nice to try something different and have it turn out well. Thanks for your comments!

tonypetersart said...

Hi David,

That self portrait you're referring to is a real favorite of mine, glad you regard this one on the level of that piece.

tonypetersart said...

Hey Hattermad,

Glad you like the comp. I'll have to blame the value contrast between the house and her shirt on my art photographer, although they are slightly different, the piece reads much better in person. But I must say, your observations are correct.

Hattermad said...

You mention Wood in your foliage, and I see what you mean in treatment, which brought to mind, to mine eye Benton in the languid figure...

wow, I've never actually used the word languid out loud or typed, but it seems to fit her posture and that of the house...must stop now before the dreadful slippage into artspeak...

still a very lovely piece...

Kim VanDerhoek said...

WOW! Putting the house at head level with the figure in this painting almost makes it a character in itself. All the directional elements you used pointing into the painting are well thought out, not overdone. A very strong painting!

tonypetersart said...

Thanks again, Hattermad.

tonypetersart said...

Thanks Kim, I appreciate it!

Andrew said...
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