Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Church of the Great Outdoors 2

Here are some color cartoons of the next canvas, shown in a previous post with only the charcoal sketch. Any opinions on which of these you like best (and why)? Click on the image to see it larger.

I have a favorite - it's not quite right in the cartoon, but it's far enough in the right direction to show me the way. That's all I needed to start painting.

In the much larger image (30x30) I will need to do a lot more detail and surface work than this - but this gets the general gist.


Anonymous said...

Number two feels grand, but somehow ominous - a bit like a Gothic cathedral. It's probably the brightness of the front and the side door against the dark sky. Notre Dame by streetlight.

Of these six, I think I like number four the most. The placement of warm and cool colors seems to fit the best in that one - the purple shadowed wall on the right, the yellow tree in bright contrast, the shining yellow of the front... This one also gives me a very strong impression of late afternoon light, like the sun setting on the steeple of the Moravian church in Old Salem, which is enough by itself to make me like it. I also think the shadows of the trees framing the window stand out the most in number four.

I do like the lighted door in the bottom right of number two, though. In addition to just being a nice touch, it balances all the light in the upper left two-thirds of the painting. I also just like brightly lit arches. I think the triptych tree-trunk window could be a bit darker than it is in number four, just to make it stand out more, but not necessarily as dark as in number three.

Sorry to chatter on for so long, but you did ask for opinions. I can't wait to see this one finished.


some_myrrh said...

I like the red trees in 3 and 4 and the dark teal sky and dark wall in 5. But I like the white tree in the lower right in 1.

Steve Emery said...

Nigel, Thanks very much for all the detailed thoughts. I also like #4 - the late afternoon light (I love that light best) will be what I try for when I paint it. The tombstone doubling as a lit arch in number 2 may make an appearance... it appeals to me on many levels. Only if it doesn't detract from the larger emphasis on the late light, though. The window is the focal point. In the actual painting I have changed/added branches to further emphasize the upward curve on the outsides, almost like arms curved up in blessing. This also focuses the eyes even more on the window. I'm not sure if the window will be darker than the church wall around it, or the lightest thing in the whole painting - something I can do more with paint than I can with this cartoon, using light bleeding around the edges of the red trees to make the back-lighting more intense.

Some-myrrh, Thank you for your comment, which further reinforces my instincts to go with the warm/bright church and blue backdrop. #4 was my choice for the starting point. I will actually not have the sky in two zones of blue (lower and upper) but there will be a faint transition to a horizon line in the left side, below where the current division is between the blues, and I plan to have the sky interact/change with the branches in some way. The red trees excited me after I tried them - I like the bright spot and the way they focus the eye on the armature in the window, as well as the way they work against the perspective at the bottom of the trees, where the red trees should be well behind the large pair framing the window. A seeming contradiction; our faith has to wrap itself around many of those.

I thought about putting animals in here somewhere - sheep on the lawn? Something in the trees or sky? But I realized the quiet and solitude was part of the atmosphere I want to capture. So the painting needs to contain only the viewer. Like an empty church in the late afternoon, doors open, light spilling out transformed by His presence inside... Those are ingredients that began some of my most memorable prayer experiences, inside or outside a church.

I will try to post the initial underpainting in another entry. A year ago I was not ready for any comment on the painting in process. Now I'm enjoying it - positive, critical, or otherwise. And I came back from New York with several blatant signs to push myself, and to get feedback as part of that process. So everyone and anyone, please kibbitz all you like.