The Magical Draw to The View — N by NW…

by Alden Cole on May 15, 2014 · 0 comments

8277WP…& the Power of White, plus the Serendipity of Found Objects. All three conduced to making today truly productive and a lot of fun. My last few hours before the full moon at 3:16 Wednesday afternoon were devoted to this new painting, an idea which has been in process since I found ‘the object to be painted on’ a few weeks ago. Walking home from the ACME one late-winter evening, I espied a 20″ x 54″ coffee table — very plain design with removable screw-on legs — leaning against other items that were obviously doomed to the land-fill, the table itself having only two of its four legs left. As soon as I saw it, abused though it was with life’s wear and tear, my mind’s eye saw a panoramic painting of… something, I wasn’t sure whether it was a country scene or the city scape; I didn’t care which, because all I saw was a great solid surface for a painting, hanging on a wall. I hefted the table to check out its weight, said “I can do this” and started walking the remaining three blocks to home. By the time I arrived I was a bit winded by the experience; nevertheless I was pleased to have scored such a fine surface to paint on. Although I’m still not sure what its most basic substratum is, all the visible surfaces are walnut veneers, still well glued with nothing pealing up; just a few surface bruises, plus a very mottled surface due to varnish breakdown in certain areas, followed by water staining. As I was walking away with the table, another trash ‘connoisseur’ happened by, zealously warning me about the dangers of picking up furniture (apparently he’d taken home some bedbugs in a bureau) but I wasn’t too worried, understanding the piece’s simple construction as I did. It spent the night in the back yard; got a total stripping down to its mottled but gorgeous walnut surface the next day, then a Briwax polish the next, followed by being moved up to the third floor studio shortly thereafter, to await transformation. As I negotiated its bulk and weight up the stairs I found myself in wonderment that I had carried this weight home just a few days before. Obviously the power of the will. When you want something enough, you go the extra mile, and the weight seems lighter.

SketchCCPWPMy intent was to keep a 3″ border of natural wood as a framing device, which would give an area 14″ x 48″ for the actual painting. On a pad of 14″ x 17″ watercolor paper I drew out a box proportionate to the required size, and started thinking about what to paint, choosing cityscape over country scene. After all, the view was right at hand; if I choose I could even take the panel out on the roof and paint from there. However, its weight prejudiced me toward a different option: to make a few nice loosely-drawn pencil sketches of the roof-line sky-line sitting out on the back roof, trying to condense a virtual 90° panorama onto a comparatively narrow surface. The tri-level pencil sketch above shows the intended panorama in the center, with enlarged details above and below it; even including parts on the left that never made it into the finished piece. Anyway, The Plan was to transfer the pencil sketch’s organic composition to the panel in paint (somehow). However when it came to the actual painting which started this morning, instead of going at it free-hand, I pulled out some photos of the view as preparatory work, traced off a drawing or two of the actual roof line plus the silhouette of those monoliths soaring beyond my roof-line horizon-line; scanned them, scaled them up, printed them out in sections, transferred the image to my prepared surface using white transfer paper so I had a pretty accurate ghosted image of the outlines; then started painting hard edge with just white acrylic, starting with over-painting the frame already outlined in black. Once the basic structures were defined, filling in the large open areas – the sky in particular – was some of the most spontaneous painting I’ve done since last summer. By afternoon I had worked it to the present state. For now it’s done. It’s not ready to be a painting on a wall. It’s first ‘real world’ function coming up relatively soon is a virtual reprise of its original use – as a table; in this particular case as a stand on which to display a number of my Night Lights, when I have my first solo art show in quite some time, in early November, at Kate Mellina and Dave Christopher’s gallery down Passyunk. More info on that event later…

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