Back in September 2014 I wrote here about beginning some figurative paintings for Tacoma General Hospital. They're finished and will be delivered this month. What I am really happy about in these paintings is the success I had in controlling the reveal of the narrative. That's art-speak for how quickly the story in the painting is told. I'll explain...
Before I began, I visited the location where the paintings will be hung. It's a waiting room in the birth center. There were families there, waiting for news about their sister, daughter, best friend...talking about her pregnancy, challenges that might await her, etc. Some folks were asleep in the chairs. The wait can be long.
When you look at these paintings, you first see color and pattern, and they have a sort of retro, comfortable feeling. In contrast to the sleek, clean environment of the hospital, they feel worn and familiar. The surface is scratched and abraded. You'll see figures, but not all at once. This is what I mean by conrolling the reveal, or the pace, of the story in the painting. You might notice a figure you didn't see at first, or maybe a dog. The story unfolds only if you take the time to allow it. My viewers will have some time to spare. The stories told are life affirming, about family, and about those simple moments we remember together.
For me, I just enjoyed switching gears as I painted - approaching the paintings as a storyteller, and then as an artist. I would turn the panel upside down, and work on the abstract design, the color and texture, then I would turn it right side up and make decisions about the figures. Then I would forget that they are figures, and just think of them as shapes, and on and on. I'm having too much fun! I feel so fortunate to be paid for what I LOVE doing. I hope that joy comes through, and brightens up a moment or two for someone feeling unsure about the future.
(clay models used for figure reference)