ANATOMY OF A PAINTING

All painting is an accident, but it’s also not an accident, because one must select what part of the accident one chooses to preserve.
— Francis Bacon

"Persona"  Work in progress shot

Source Material for "Persona" (film still from "Double Indemnity" 1944)

Source material for "Persona"

Source Material for "Persona"

Source Material for "Persona" (Jean Harlow)

Source Material for "Persona"

Source Material for "Persona"

"Persona" (early version and revised) 22" x 28" Oil on canvas - This painting started in 2011 (Left) but was wrapped up and put in the closet for 4 years until I found and finished her for my Veiled Hearts series in 2016.

I started work on "Persona" in 2011, but she just felt unfinished and was never shown publicly. Instead, she was wrapped up and put in a closet for 5 years. When I found her again in early 2016 she was ready for a new pair of shoes. There was a lot of source material that went into this painting. Often times I'll use an old film still as a starting point. That photo will be the general scaffolding of a piece and then I start to gather specific source material for the different visual elements I want to add. One of the biggest challenges is to try an blend all the elements with into one integrated scene. This painting ended up being one of my favourites from the Veiled Hearts series. I think what made it special for me was how the veils made these two women look like giant chess figures.

In the first version, the city lights in the background window were brighter, more stylized and out of focus. I decided to paint over it with an elaborate city skyline, (see detail below). It ended up being an insane amount of fine detail work. I think I went through an entire 14 hour audiobook just painting the city lights in all those buildings. 

"Persona" -detail 

Kelly Grace posing for me at her studio.

Slow Burn, 24" x 30" (final) 

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"Resurrection" (first version) 

"Resurrection" (Final)

"Resurrection" (Final)

The painting "Resurrection" (above) started out with a photograph of a solitary figure in a field. For some reason I ended up with a truly tacky colour palette (top left, first version). I wanted a moody sky but it ended up looking like a greeting card. As I was painting it, I kept wondering, "Is this amazing or horrible?" Usually not a good sign. Sometimes after logging in a lot of hours on a painting that isn't working, it gets hard to be objective. When I feel this happening, I have to just stop and put it away. Sometimes for a few months or even years. Otherwise, as in the case of the tacky sunset above, the whole shebang turns into a demented Bob Ross moment. Finally, in total frustration, I showed it to a friend and she said, "That sky is way too fucking happy." Yup. I had no choice but to go back and rein in that crazy colour palette. After realizing that it should be a night scene, I had to set about putting a dark wash over all that finished grass, I decided to have her hands morph into foliage, growing inside the car and twisting around the handle. That, for me, made the image start to come alive. My friend Chris does CGI in films and he suggested I bring out the headlights of the car and that gave the piece exactly the kind of tension that I'd wanted in the first place. Sometimes it takes a village. Actually, I don't usually show my unfinished work unless I'm totally lost.