March 30, 2011

looking and seeing

street corner preacher
Street Corner Preacher
18" x 24" oil on canvas

Just before I finished this painting today I decided to add a crow. Though I feel like I'm still drifting at sea creatively, I just realized that there's a thematic thread in my recent paintings after all: bricks and crows. What can it all mean?

I don't usually paint in such a realistic manner (though my work often has significant elements of realism) but I felt like I was taking a risk by painting unfamiliar subject matter (urban street scene) in a still new-to-me medium (oil paint) so wanted to reduce the risk of failure by taking the focus off style and relying fairly heavily on a single reference photo. I actually think the photo works better. I was standing across the street on a very anonymous industrial drag and it just leaped out at me. I found it on Google Street View just now so you can see how modest and unobtrusive the corner of this building is. You can also see the graffiti that had been removed by the time I took the photo:

I knew it would be a keeper once I framed it in my viewfinder. I've never used one of my really good photos as reference and painted a painting that outshines it. Photography is still underrated as an art form and I think this illustrates it. Also, the fact that I use my camera all the time significantly impacts the way I see things and therefore how I paint and draw.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.
Henry David Thoreau


jo rosenblum said...

I'm new to your blog, but I'm really impressed. Thank you for putting so much of your stuff out there , it's really inspiring.I'm just so new to photography, but I'm at the really excited point, where if you happen to get something that's great you can't believe it.
Keep your eye clear, go with what you see.
All the best JO

studio lolo said...

On my sidebar all I saw was "I decided to add a crow.." I had to pop over, being a raven/crow fan. And I like where you placed him so he blends with the darkest part. The angle of the shadow on the wall in perfect alignment to his back, and the rich blues of the wall reflected in his shiny feathers. You make urban decay beautiful!

andrea said...

Jo: Thank you for visiting! Aren't those moments of serendipity when you see the perfect photo amazing?

Laurel: Yikes, I feel guilty moving him now but he was bugging me. The tension turned into annoyance. But I think he's close enough that the same qualities remain -- I hope. And thank you for your comment about making urban decay beautiful as that's exactly what I'm trying to do! :)

asperezas said...

Good work :)