I'm happy to say that I'll be moving to Virginia next week to begin medical school at the University of Virginia. It has been a busy time preparing for this change so I have neglected this blog to concentrate on school, work, family and moving. The good news is that once I was accepted I was able to make time to paint again. I love it as much as ever and I really hope to make painting part of my medical school life as much as possible. That being said, it might prove difficult to paint without neglected other responsibilities so here are the last few pieces I've completed, all of them commissions.
This was painted for noble laureate Dr. Mario Capecchi at the request of my awesome pre-medical advisor. Dr. Capecchi spoke at the 2012 National Conference on Undergraduate Research held at our university and my advisor was able to interview him for an article in the school magazine. In that interview he compared art and science and spoke of concentric circles of complexity and how scientists need to look to the future of science, almost to science fiction, to progress. My advisor wanted a visual abstraction of this concept so I incorporated abstract art and cell biology-inspired shapes to create this piece. Now she is having it framed and will hopefully get it to Dr. Capecchi shortly after.
Puzzle For a Friend
A family in our neighborhood, whom I consider great friends, love to do puzzles on a scale I had never before seen. While their puzzles have tens of thousands of pieces, the painting I did for them only has five. This was a very fun, quick, loose painting that I loved working on. I wanted to show them how much I appreciate them.
Dragonflies on the Clematis
12"x 16" ?
This was a commission for a wonderful lady who loves gardening and dragonflies. I was really excited to try an elongated format and had a wonderful time painting the dragonflies. Paintings, in general, take more work, time and planning than I ever expected. I mean hard, frustrating hours full of wiping off and painting over and disappointment. I wouldn't think I could ever say a piece "painted itself" but then this one came along. It might not have painted itself, but it came so easily and naturally that I really had a great time working on it. It was a nice reminder of why I love painting so much and a welcome 12 hour break from stress.
Under Hickman Bridge
It is a good thing that I had my easy commission before this one because had this been the first, I don't know if I could have accepted another! As natural and easy and fun as the last one was, this was equally frustrating, difficult and discouraging. I was working from a photograph as a rough source and I was really excited about the composition and idea. Red rocks and southern Utah are a concept that I have explored and revisited since I began painting and I love the contrast of green and red as well as the dry desert light. Yet this one was a battle every step of the way. One of the contributing factors was my schedule, which didn't allow for many long sessions and, since I was struggling with mixing colors and establishing a style, it was hard to make progress when I only had an hour or so at a time.
Finally, I was able to capture my desired 'feel' in the distant mountains and that helped get me started. I moved a step into the foreground and began working on the mid-distance cliffs. They resisted for awhile, but once I was able to spend some time working on them things came together there as well. Now I had some painterly momentum and the overhead arch, foreground rocks, and the level desert ground were easier to capture. Then came the huge, shadowed cliff face in the foreground. It was, for lack of another term, a 'problem area' that I attacked with every color, style and level of detail I had. Nothing worked. A few came close and may have been at least neutral canvas to let the rest of the painting exist on its own, but I wasn't satisfied with that. I kept coming back to what role I wanted this half of the painting to play in the finished product.
I knew my focus was on the lighted areas to the right, but I still wanted this half to have warmth and depth. Slowly, with many wipe downs and restarts, I found a balance of simplicity and perspective that I knew would work. I wanted to incorporate more greenery, as that was something requested by the commissioner, and was originally planning on 'planting' more in the light-soaked desert ground to the right. Yet once I got the ground settled I knew that it needed to stay empty and bright. The original picture I was working from had some trees in the right foreground area, mostly dead like the one shown, so I began working on the idea of incorporating more trees in front of the blank cliff face. I did some research and found pictures in Capitol Reef of trees near cliffs and felt like it would work. The trees were, actually, my favorite part to paint and pulling everything together was very rewarding after such a struggle along the way. I kept track of the time I spent on this piece and ended at 24 hours. It took longer than it should have but I'm very happy with the result and I learned a lot from this one. The commissioner and her husband were also very pleased with the finished product.
*Note* the image I currently have is not the best quality so I'm working on acquiring a better one.