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The Story of a Painting: One Year Early

One Year Early.  Oil on canvas. 30"x48"

One Year Early. Oil on canvas. 30"x48"

I don't know if this is interesting to other folks, but I'm thinking about making this a series of blog posts. Writing about one painting in detail. Let's see how this works.

One Year Early is one of my first oil paintings. The photograph was taken with the model standing on a kitchen counter and me on my knees below her. I love the presence of the pose. The angle is classically domineering and powerful but there is something about the position of her arms that tempers the angle and feels very casual. These contradictory elements in the pose would dictate the color and mood of the painting for me.

I love experimenting and I was fascinated with the way my new oil paints blended. This painting started as a whirlwind of blended colors. It's very rare that I use a brush to paint and One Year Early is no exception. It's all palette knife. Once the thin layer of colors cured, I thinned some red (I don't remember which red) and spread that on top. I let that cure and got started on the figure.

I use chalk to draw in my figures, that way I can easily wipe off mistakes and draw over and over until it is just right. Then I mask the figure with painter's tape. With this painting, the red was so loud, that I thought it might be interesting to counter the red, not by clashing with it, using loud greens or blues, but by cancelling it as the contradictions in the pose had tempered one another. I had a thought that I could paint a painting that you would walk right past. It would be quiet and perfect for a library or hotel. I know I should probably be trying to get attention, "LOOK AT ME!" But, I was going for something else with this painting. To deal with that loud red, I chose a deep plum wine color, it almost looks black in thicker areas. Around that time I was reading the amazing David Park biography by Nancy Boas and I grew an appreciation and love for ochre yellow. I had never been a big fan of yellow, but ochre yellow just sings to me now. I think there is some brown in there as well.

The blue dots. I don't know. The painting needed some kind of spark. I went for quiet, but it was WAY too quiet. I wish I had a clever or intellectual reason for the blue dots, but I don't. They come from the guts.

The name of the painting, One Year Early, came at the very end. I signed the painting and when I dated it, I got it wrong. I wrote 1-13 instead of 1-14. So, while the painting has the wrong year on it, the title pretty much advertises that fact. I kind of hate telling you that story about the title, you probably have a better story or idea in your head. Maybe the idea for this "The Story of a Painting" series is a bad idea. I'm not sure.

If there is anything else you would like to know about One Year Early, or any other paintings, let me know by heading on over to the 'Contact' page.


Emerson MurrayComment