Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Little Light Reading

The new Painting is coming along quickly.

It's the largest canvas I've painted on in years, at 54" by 48" .

I am painting in a loose style, being as gestural with the brushstrokes as I can, and amping up the texture as much as possible. I'm using larger brushes, as well as palette knives to help with this. I'd been getting in the rut of painting too detailed, being a slave to a type of photographic realism, and I wanted to paint with painterly gusto.

The scene is from my first deployment to Iraq, in November 2006, when I was out near Habbaniyah, with Lima Co 3/2, at one of their FOBs, OP Broncos. I took a lot of photos and did a lot of sketching at the time, and went out on several patrols with them, to see how they lived and worked and record their activities.

One morning, as I walked into the area depicted here, I saw the way the light was cascading on everything, and the way the Marines were sitting there, reading and keeping warm by a small fire, and I knew I'd have to paint it. It not only served as an historical scene, as a picture of life in an outpost, but also as an artistic investigation of light (who's Thomas Kinkade kidding with his art title, anyway?!) ...

The Marines depicted here were reading books and magazines they'd received from Stateside, and were shooting the breeze, before getting on with the duties of the day--standing post, patrol, etc.

Here are the stages of the painting so far:

The Drawing (This is important, as the phrase I heard Schmid say, quoted from the French Academy, "Well Drawn is Well Painted")

The First Strokes!:
Establishing the Lightest Lights (I got that from Charlie Grow here at the Combat Art Program. This helps a lot later on in keeping high values and avoiding muddy or unexciting paintings...):
Establishing the Darkest Darks (Once this is done, along with the lightest lights, it really helps fill in the middle ranges, where the transitional forms and values make a painting richer):
Then Flesh it out (Here the painting is in its youth, not fully grown, but beginning to stand on it s own...):
If I can maintain the sort of controlled frenzy each time I approach the painting, I may be able to save a lot of time and worry, and have a dynamic painting to show for it.

1 comment:

P.J. said...

Do comments such as, AMAZING, GIFTED, INCREDIBLE, TALENTED or just WOW meet the criteria of civil, intelligible (and hopefully deep and meaningful...)?
I dabble in illustrating and have been a long-time admirer of such legendary artists as Howard Chandler Christie, James Montgomery Flagg, Charles Dana Gibson, Norman Rockwell, and the Wyeths.
Now with a loud Uhh Rahh, its time to add Kristopher Battles to the list.
By the way, thank you for your service. (Pass this on to your fellow Marines along with any deserving serviceman).

Patrick James McKenna
PC1 USN (Retired)