It’s good to be back to the blog. Perhaps this signals more blogging to ocme, which would be great but I can’t promise. Herewith, then:
A few quick thoughts and analysis of a couple of the DQ paintings I did about a year ago: DQ B&W #1 and Rosinante Running. Both are paintings I have come to like much more than I did when I first painted them.
oil on panel 24″ x 18″, 2012
Don Quixote in Black & White #1
2012, 18″x 14″
“Rosinante Running,” 2012, was painted predominantly with palette knives, with a very little bit of brushwork. Knife painting is like carving with color; blues and blacks seem to have been chiseled out, while the reds, whites and yellows act is if they were laid on top and pinched and pulled into place to create a high relief surface. Particularly where the point of the knife or pencil cuts grooves into the paint, the variegated surface catches and reflects light so as to make it shimmer when the light is at the perfect angle.
The application of paint, the high color contrasts, the hard angularity of the shapes (as opposed to soft, curving shapes), all contribute to the sense of agitated movement.
“DQ B&W #1” developed as a bit of a dare from Shelley Reed to paint some Don Quixotes in black & white. (If you look at Shelley’s terrific work you can see why she might say that.)
In this one it’s the face and upper body. I really love how the face is framed with that crazy almost-upside-down L-shaped angle, with the eye casually hanging on like a barnacle without the eyelid there to secure it.
The face is actually constructed of a series of triangles, from the chin whiskers to the nose, to the forehead. This little tower supports the see-saw of shapes that is his hat. Which itself is topped by a sideways triangle.
The shadow that is cast across the nose sets up the dark outline of the mustache within a compelling negative space that points us down the neck to a roll of a chest (not quite a barrel-chest), upheld by the triangular wedge below it. The hand holding the lance my be my favorite part. I know, it’s upside down, simplified and distorted, yet it rests so gently upon the hilt it seems as pious as a Byzantine portrait, in opposition to hardness of his left hand, balled into a fist, determined and ready for action.
The different hands help tell the story of a guy who in today’s parlance could certainly be considered bipolar: alternately brave, empathetic and wise, yet also delusion, quick to anger and prone to violence.