Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sandman - Post 1

Linda has been gently after me to show this canvas I've had going for over nine months. Some things take longer to incubate. And some of it's just laziness on my part - I have a lot of work to do before I can get to the next plainly fun part (the fun will be with the paintbrush again). I have to finish the research and drawing of the buildings. And I haven't rushed that because I've been choosy about the houses and placement... So that brings me back to incubation, rather than laziness.

This is 30 x 30 - a bit large for me. And I hadn't really been interested in showing it until I was more certain of its direction. But with Linda's coaxing I think I see that I might do better now to have it out and thus a little more motivation to work on it and finish it. Glee 1 could also have taken months if I hadn't been showing it every week or so. I think Creative Every Day 2009 will also help keep things moving on this piece, as well as others.

Here is the Sandman, in a detail from the top of the canvas (click any image for a larger view). He's done; this is not the art school way to work a painting, for sure - more on that below. The story in this painting is that the Sandman is showing the image of these buildings on his cloak. So I have to figure out how I'm going to do the cloak part, besides the contour of his long muscular arm at the top. The buildings will be jumbled with images of figures, in arches, on sides of buildings, etc. (more research and drawing). They'll be doing various things.

The hand, out of sight already on the right, was sprinkling that famous sand - the yellow line I drew on this third image will be where I paint in the falling sand crystals/dust. Above the line, where it's already fallen past, the color scheme will be cooler and darker, and the people will all be asleep or sleepy. Below the line, where it hasn't fallen yet, the colors will be warmer and lighter, and the people will still be active and awake.

As for the art school approach - I'm really just grinning about that. I sometimes work up a surface as I was taught, but in this case I needed the Sandman done before the rest could happen. He's inspiring the rest, dreaming and speaking it into being for me - and he's also where I set the bar for this piece; the rest has to be as good as he is, which is some of the best I've done in acrylic. And the drawing has to be up to snuff, too - hence the careful work so far, which will get even more careful when I start to fiddle with the figures. And I might need to wait for a few life drawing sessions to get me back into figure drawing before I'm ready to tackle them. I might even need the figures to come from the life drawing sketches. I just don't know. I'm not rushing this - seeing how far I can push myself to make this as strong and rich as possible.

So now that I've let this cat out of the bag (thank you, Linda), what do you all think?

17 comments:

DCup said...

Well, I am digging it so far.

linda said...

steve, you know how I feel about this painting but wanted to leave a comment that this is going to be one of your masterpieces!

Pagan Sphinx said...

I love it. The promise of the sand sprinkling what it will is just delightful.

This is going to be an incredible painting.

I'm glad Linda nudged you...

Summer Kinard said...

Wow! I love getting to watch the making of great art, the sort like this that reveals the soul and lifts one beyond the world we expect, this raising our expectations. To do this with song is one thing, but this painting feels like you are about to sing to us and change the way we see _using what we see_to do so. So cool. And I'm eager to see how the houses play out. As a dreamer of Dreams, I find the interaction of sleep and houses/spaces fascinating.

Thalia Took said...

Having been and gone through art school myself I can safely say *eff* the art school approach. I have, myself, always naturally worked parts of a painting up to finished while leaving other parts bare. I need to see something done, sometimes, to know what the rest of it has to look like (just like you're doing with this one).

I always do the faces first. If they don't work, there's no point in doing the rest of it.

Alex said...

I really like the concept of the painting. I also like the fact that your Sandman is less sinister than I usually see presented. (Of course, I got "Sandman" by Neil Gaimen for Christmas, so I might just be judging from that.)

One thing that struck me though is that I don't see any movement in the houses. His hair is flowing, his arm is moving in a broad sweeping gesture as he spreads the sand. The cape should portray that movement and (in my mind) it would show up as distortion (ripples, folds, etc...) in the houses.

tammy vitale said...

I stand in awe of those of you who put this much blood sweat and tears into a painting. I used to do more of that but these days my paintings are getting looser and looser (not planned, just happening and since painting is my hobby vs working in clay being my passion I never think much about it). I love the yellow line - and your description is wonderful. I can't wait to see this unfold. I greatly enjoyed watching the creation of Glee....and Linda was so right about your getting this out!

The Gypsy said...

Can't wait to see this finished - will you be showing us the work in progress? (please say yes!)

Genie Sea said...

It might be the magic dust from the sandman reaching through cyberspace and catching me its wake, but I am feeling very dreamy gazing at this masterpiece (I agree with Linda) in the making... :)

DarklyFey said...

This is gorgeous. I can't wait to see it progress. People that can actually do art inspire me to keep on trying!

Leah said...

Oh, this is amazing, Steve! I love it so much already!!

1,000 Faces of MotherHenna said...

Wow, I'm absolutely in love with him! Thank you (and Linda for prompting you)! Can't wait to see more as it evolves...
Here's to having tea with dreams!
miracles,
k-

linda said...

not agreeing with alex-I think having folds in the cape at the bottom would be a distraction and a mistake and not the point of the piece...it's a fantasy, in other words...

just my 2cents...

Steve Emery said...

Wow, everyone. I knew this was a special item, but thanks for so many comments.

DCup - I knew you'd like this one.

Linda - Thanks for nudging me, and for your strong encouragement. As for the cloak, ripples, etc., I have been planning to have only the very top of the cape look like cloth - after the top 5-6 inches the image below will all be steady - as you say, it's a fantasy.

Pagan - Thanks you! I hope I can make it as incredible as I picture it. The thing with acrylics is that I can keep trying over and over, part by part, until I get what I want.

Summer - Thanks for your poetic/philosophical post. I have read a lot of your dream images on your blog, and I sense how much they mean to you. They enrich our waking life, and tell us things (even if we can't know precisely what they're saying much of the time). I hope I can get the houses and figures to work as I picture them.

Thalia - Exactly!!! I did the face right at the start for two reasons. 1. If I couldn't get him to look the way I wanted, I was not going to do the rest. And 2. Once he was done (and he surprised me, he came out so well - all in a single two hour session) I knew how the rest had to look. As I said, he set the bar for the rest of the work.

Alex - I know the Sandman you mean (Gaimen's) and I've never pictured the Sandman that way. I picture him older, a bit weary around the eyes, but with a dry sense of humor. Pleasantly sarcastic, even. And as I said in the reply to Linda, above, I do intend to do some cloak ripple/distortion at the top, but not for most of the canvas. It's intended to be as if we here passing over the real world, and ruffling the surface briefly.

Tammy Vitale - I don't usually put this much into a piece! But this idea seemed to warrant it, and I wanted to do a sustained painting. So here it is. That yellow line was done with MS Paint on top of the photo, just to illustrate where I would be placing the line of sand. Painting that sand is a problem I still have to solve - the whole canvas is full of problems I've never solved before. It's like a 1000 piece puzzle when I've been doing nothing but 100s up to now. I have the tools, but I've never used them in this sustained a manner.

Gypsy - Yes. I'll show it as it progresses - good, bad, editing, repainting, etc. But I'll probably wait a bit to show it again - after I've done a good bit more drawing, but before I start to paint the rest.

Genie Sea - Thanks! I find spending time with this image to be calming and relaxing, as well. I think another reason I painted the Sandman completely before starting the rest was so he could accompany the entire process. As I typed that I sense that I will be playing that game on other work, now, as well... What if a painted character was the force that decided and drove the rest of an image? Painted its own world, and I just listened and obliged it? I have to try that soon - maybe a type of play - something that works within the CED 2009 theme for January, even.

DarklyFey - Thanks! And I think you are doing exciting and revealing art exploring your emotions and your different sides. I like your recent melancholy image (I particularly like the eyes and way you abbreviated the collarbone) and I really like your Woad self. I'm preparing some more self portrait ideas inspired by that Woad image of yours...

Leah - Thanks! This will be a long time in progress. I'm going top push things to line up with my inner image. I'm not going to settle along the way.

MotherHenna (of the 1000 Faces) - Thanks! And tea is a great idea... I wonder if that will get into the image now...

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

God, I love your work! It's SO inspiriting. I'd like to be able to paint like that. AMAZING! I love the birds and your self portrait. I am inspired now to to try birds again.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR BEAUTIFUL INSPIRING WORK!

Mary

Steve Emery said...

Mary - Many thanks! This kind of encouragement helps keep me free and going strong. Wow. Thanks!

I'll be looking for birds on your blog...

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I'm in a sketchbook exchange group and I just did a little 5 x 8.5 watercolor in one of the sketchbooks based on one of your paintings. Not the same, but a similar idea. Of course, it's no where near as good.

I may post it tomorrow.

Your work is so strong and so imaginative, it's amazing. Very powerful stuff, and I love it. (If I were rich, I'd buy some to put around me for comfort, cheer, and inspiration. Unfortunately, I'm unemployed.