Saturday, June 12, 2010

Girl Reading, Pacific Beach

"Girl Reading, Pacific Beach" 24 x 26 inches, oil on canvas

A while back, I posted my preliminary drawing for this painting. It's finally finished. The process involved a new method I'm using to help me include the figure within my new works.

But before I get into how I did the painting, let's talk about the why. Every painting of mine includes personal meaning, but I hope that the image resonates with the viewer in an archetypal way. I feel the purpose of my work is to depict my own story, but it's not necessarily important to understand in order to enjoy the work. When I was still a teenager, 18 years old, I moved out of my parent's house and lived close to this particular neighborhood in Pacific Beach. I spent most of my time in study, although I lived in the midst of a party town, and I somehow managed to stay out of trouble... honest! So this painting depicts the kind of ideal fantasy girl that I never met there at the time, a good girl engrossed in her studies.

As for how I did this painting, I was initially inspired when I was visiting the New York Public Library and viewed their WPA era murals... I wanted to do my own library painting. At first, my idea was to depict a girl sitting and reading under a tree, but as I went out in search of the perfect tree to use for my painting, I found this beautiful repetative long line of palms in the old Pacific Beach neighborhood. In this particular view, I liked how the long fence complemented those palms, as well as the long pose of the reclining figure I had in mind. These three elements somehow divided the piece into thirds. Then, I worked up a kind of classical composition creating a big triangle or pyramid as the overall center of the piece... do you see it?

As I transferred my drawing to canvas and began the painting, my friend, Aron Wiesenfeld, pointed out that the palms lining the background were a little too monotonous. I changed them in this final painting, so it does differ from my preliminary drawing.

Speaking of my pal Aron Wiesenfeld, I just got back from his opening exhibition at the Bakersfield Museum of Art...


harry bell said...

I really like this. The figure especially seems to capture the essence of WPA murals, some of which I saw in Coit Tower in San Francisco in 2007.

tonypetersart said...

Harry, I was totally inspired by WPA murals for this piece. I loved the paintings at Coit Tower. And there's a beautiful old Fletcher Martin mural at the San Pedro Post Office that I have spent time admiring.

harry bell said...

Ah, Fletcher Martin. There's a name you don't hear much these days, unfortunately. I carried home a huge monograph on him the first time I went to the States. Well worth the effort.