Living Rooms #4: Even Amanda’s chair is interested that someone came over to the house today.

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This painting had about 5 finished versions.



What’s the difference, you ask?

Well, color balance was really difficult. I really wanted to use purple and stay away from blue and yellow, which are my fall back colors. I ended up, though, overcompensating and doing just too much purple. I tried to cut it with brown, to shake up the effect of the painting, but I just wasn’t able to get it where I wanted.

Second, the face was a problem. I over articulated it, and it ended up living in the uncanny valley for a long time. I had to sync the face’s resolution up with the resolution of the painting for it to work. It’s a little bit of a tricky optical thing. I was painting the face as though you could see it from up close- except that in the painting, she’s behind a table and you’re way in the back of the room. The clumsy over resolution of the face made it seem like it was jumping out of the painting right at you.

I also had a horrible snafu with the finish. After my first finish, the modge podge stuck to everything and gummed up the painting in a way that was completely gross. It was heartbreaking- this was the year of terrible finishing issues. Feeling demoralized, I sort of banished the painting for 1-2 months while I worked on other paintings.

So, techniques aside, what is this painting even supposed to do? 

Glad you asked!

First, I wanted to have something deep and inviting, as a change from the sort of looking in that my other living room paintings have been about. In this painting, the subject is engaging with the viewer.

Secondly, I wanted to express emotional welcome through the bright light and plants in the back window. I have a secret belief that green is set off by purple in a way that’s strangely satisfying, despite that they’re both secondary colors.

Thirdly, the backlighting of Amanda is important, as it draws the viewer away from the person looking right at them and focuses them on the conditions of the room. Her figure doesn’t dominate- it’s a combined effect from the balance and arrangement of her, the walls, the furniture, and the other assorted objects.

Rooms that are set up well enhance human interaction in a mysterious way. Being in someone’s space and engaging with them in a place that’s set up for human engagement changes the dynamics of connecting with that person. This painting is, at least partly, a representation of that kind of dynamic.


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