Race to the Top
The story for this week’s painting unfolded as I worked on it. In fact, it grew out of a change I made to the design midway; see the technical discussion below.
One of the pleasures of the creative process is that sometimes good ideas lurk just below the level of conscious awareness. This week I was dimly aware that the design had a story to tell me, I just didn’t know for certain what it was. A good painting doesn’t even have to have a clear story. I just felt that this one did, if I could tease it out.
Once I had the basic arrangement in place, I kept thinking about the notions of “pointing”, “circling”, and “victory”. But nothing clicked yet. Once I made the design change, though, I knew this was a painting about rising to the top.
The Technical Side
“Race to the Top” was done entirely from life (without use of photography). It is painted with oil on linen, which is mounted to a hardboard panel. The dimensions are 14×11 inches (35×27 cm). I worked with a straight-forward grisaille (black and white) underpainting. This was followed by a mixture of opaque paints and glazes on top of the underpainting.
With this painting, I did something I don’t normally do – reworked the composition when I was well into the process. I’m usually decisive about my compositions; once it’s set, it’s set. But as I finished the drawing and worked on the underpainting, I felt there was a problem with the design. You can see the original in this in-progress shot.
Initially, the lemon was at the same level as the teapot and silver creamer. While I liked the sense of balance that brought, it was making it hard to relate the creamer on top of the brick to the rest of the composition. The eye got stuck at the lower level.
By adding another brick and placing the lemon on it, the eye is naturally drawn upwards and moves through the picture more smoothly. The spout of the teapot points to the lower silver creamer; the spoon in the creamer points to the lemon; the lemon leads the eye to the upper creamer; and then back to the teapot.
By making this relatively small change, I got a better composition with a cleaner, more natural flow.
If you’re interested in adding “Race to the Top” to your collection, send me a message using the “Connect with Me” section on the sidebar to the right. Please bookmark my blog and watch for posts about this coming week’s painting.