by Alden Cole on December 21, 2013 · 0 comments


acrylic & oil on plywood panel, 12″ x 24″ •  framed in oak, 17″ x 29″     in the collection of Jenna Cole Hamm

Spring 2013. In mid-March I started working on a piece that I hoped to sell to a potential patron, whom I had met the prior August while in Alaska. In mid-January, the prospective patron inquired whether I had any other paintings similar to one she had seen in 2012’s December Advent series; a small piece painted while I was at Camp Denali that summer, and given to my niece Jenna. The piece in question – a delightful 2-hour sketch that was my own personal favorite of the many paintings produced while in Alaska, and one I was almost loath to part with – was unique. I  responded that unfortunately I didn’t have any other paintings that were particularly similar, but I would be interested in trying my hand at creating an equivalent in the studio. Who knew that I was about to embark on one of those artist/client journeys that would become a minor nightmare before it was over and I woke up? Turning a spontaneous sketch made in Alaska into a more ambitious studio piece made in Philadelphia would prove to be the most interesting of my spring painting experiences, a reminder of earlier times and places. Shades of New York City.

The new studio painting doubled the size of the original sketch – 5.5″ x 12″ – to a classic double square – 12″ x 24.” I chose to develop the painting over the natural-brown of a sealed but unprimed plywood panel. Using the natural brown color of the panel as an elemental color to build on, I applied my base of acrylics, glazing the colors very thinly, in an attempt to capture the magic sparkle of fall foliage – purples, reds, oranges and yellows – interspersed with the deep greens of the conifers. Once satisfied with what I’d achieved, I photographed it, and sent a file to the interested patron, hoping for a quick and easy sale. It was not to be. The client wanted “minor” changes, which re-introduced me to the very inexact science of trying to second guess another person’s vision. I was foolish enough to accept the challenge, and attempted to satisfy the requests made. It opened a can of worms, which lead to more “minor” revisions, which prompted putting my foot down at some point, which prompted a somewhat prolonged silence. The situation reminded me of experiences as a freelance illustrator in New York City, and why I had left the profession. In the silence I decided to return to the source, and refocus on simply pleasing myself. Back to psychological ground zero. That’s when the painting finally came together. I sent my niece Jenna a picture file of the new painting which had developed out of the original sketch in her possession, to let her know the full story of its genesis. Bless her heart, she offered to buy the painting on the spot.

40 Below-9.1.12

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