Progress: Angels over Taco Bell + A New Portrait Style

A friend in church one time asked me to paint the children’s playroom- he figured I could put a zoo on the walls in a couple of hours. I had to break down to him that unless he wanted me to paint a big dragon, I couldn’t freehand any of what he was asking for.

One of the problems I run into frequently, maybe because I didn’t go to art school, is that there is a learning curve on how to paint different kinds of paintings interestingly. I can do a pretty good/pretty boring rendition of any given photo, but for a piece of art to be good I need to create some kind of confluence between subject and form. What kinds of glass am I going to glue down if I’m making a parking lot? What direction should the caulking go on a face? It requires a lot of experimentation to get something to “work”. It’s almost scientific, except there’s no math and my results could never be replicated by anyone else.

Which makes deadlines really difficult. Recently I released a bunch of houses right in a row. Four house, five weeks, with one week being deep sixed by plague. Pretty good right? Except now I’m not doing houses, I’m doing angels.

I’ve slowly been trying to develop a way of communicating what I want about angels- trying to make them strange again. The four heads, the six wings, the danger- I’d love to be able to crystallize that into a provocative, arresting image. How many years would it take? I need to push forward to finish this painting as best I can, and be satisfied with the angels I can piece together in the meantime. The first two angels are duds, I think. The last angel I think is a keeper along with the middle two, the more animalistic ones. Any thoughts are welcome- trying to figure this out and move on.

Speaking of moving on, I’m trying my umpteenth portrait experiment, a sort of texture divide with a planned smokey background.

It’s of my friend Jonathan at the library. I powered out the sketch and tried not to be a perfectionist, especially since I was going to eclipse the sketch with texture. I want to make the glass work as both light and color, in contrast to the caulking, where I’ll make a portrait with traditional colors with connective highlights. I hope to make something that feels mysterious and explosive at the same time. I’d like to up my big portrait game- my little scenes have beens strong as have my city scapes- catching up with big portraits will help round out that show in two years.

It’s been great to be this disciplined with art. Turning up the gas has really gelled well with being a new father. Once he’s in bed at 7, I’m down in the garage with the monitor trying not to cut myself on all the broken glass on the floor. It’s started to be the weird cocktail of aggravating/relaxing that I think only comes from beloved disciplines.

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