Telling a Believable Lie

Green Stripe
Oil on Linen Panel, 20×16″

I missed the last two sessions of my Saturday group. I had one Saturday to get some of my students’ work ready for a juried exhibition and another Saturday to shop for a wedding dress with my future daughter-in-law. (I actually have a kid who is getting married! Who’d a thunk it!) That explains nearly a month without a painting to post on this blog. The painting above has been sitting in the studio all this time.

I requested this set-up. I am very interested in the idea of layers of pictorial space. I often make use of the negative spaces as a lattice through which one must look to find the actual subject matter of the painting. I think it makes for a more interesting painting even when items are not diagonal to the picture plane. It’s a challenge to the viewer to look carefully and become a participant in the creation of the work. It’s also a challenge to paint.
I am very pleased with this. I am especially pleased with the interlaced fingers of the hands. I actually managed not to give her fifteen fingers. The fact that the model broke her pose every half hour, and brought her hands back into a slightly different position each time, made it difficult to synthesize all the slight changes into one believable set of hands.
I have often said that the whole process of observational painting is one of telling the most believable lie. I say it because it’s an illusion and therefore a lie. I come down in Plato’s camp in part. I have no problem presenting my audience with an illusion where he found it reprehensible. He preferred the obvious stylization of Egyptian art. Illusion was something to be avoided so as not to encourage the error of confusing the illusion with reality.

I, however, derive great pleasure in testing my abilities to carefully observe and translate my observations onto the flat surface in such a way as to convince the viewer there is a three dimensional space on a flat panel.


February 19, 2012