Sunday, October 12, 2008

Woman with Hat and Dolphins (completed October 25, 2008)

50" x 42" Oil paint (over charcoal and acrylic ground on canvas)

This painting has been started over and over again in my mind for half a year... maybe longer. More correctly, only parts of this painting. In some respects, there are similar pieces going back to the early 1980's. Similar in that they depict or contain images of a woman or women sitting outside, on a beach, park, or garden. The figure is not a specific person, but rather a generic type (until I can get a model later this week). Once I am working with a model, the figure might become more developed and individualized, but that's hard to know right now. There is no hiding the fact that you can see Richard Diebenkorn's influence in this piece. That is one reason why I would like to retain some of the figure's ambiguity. Thankfully you can't see the earliest stages when the figure was larger and the whole piece was more like an Alex Katz painting.

Initially, this painting was a much more decorative piece that depicted four dolphins (borrowed from
Dionysus in a Boat, a Kylix by Exekias from about 540 B.C.) I did not intend for this to be a figure painting. The strong dark shape of the dolphins started to conjure up thoughts of torpedoes, or missiles, or even sharks- and the whole thing was a lot more ominous. Maybe this notion could be developed. Maybe use a sort of U.S.G.I. stenciling on flat shapes of U-boats, or ships, or something. But somehow, instead of becoming more warlike, or developing along a more decorative path it went in a different direction. Darn it if the dolphins didn't remind me of the beach, and the beach reminded me of summer hats, and the summer hats brought back this image that has been on my mind or in my thoughts or whatever for a long long time; and this is what I have so far.

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