New studio prep
October 2014, Royal College of Art, London
Catanian Crepuscolo Wall
June 2014, Catania, Sicily, Italy
April 2014, South Pasadena, California
My friends out there know i am working on this big-assed (it’s a technical term—look it up) painting. It’s the largest piece i’ve ever tackled, and only the second in oil in a long while. While it’s been a joy in many ways, but the sheer size of the piece and the practicalities of working in oil have been…shall i say interesting? I’ve worked on it in fits and starts, and i have to admit that the possibly of screwing up has been a real hindrance. The dry media that i’ve principally been working with the past few years is much more forgiving to mistakes and can be reworked or completely redrawn quickly. I know paint can be painted over, the drying time is frustrating and in many sections i’m trying to preserve the natural color of the linen beneath.
I’ve worked most of the 14 and half foot canvas, but i’ve been dutifully avoiding fully developing certain aspects of the scene knowing that they require my best drawing abilities. All in the center of the canvas, but mentally shoved in the corner. I had set a goal of completing the piece (a stage 1, kind of complete at least) by the end of summer. (The season’s end not the school year’s beginning!) Well, with September well underway it’s long past time stop avoiding and to attack.
To-do list in hand, after much fussing, (obsessively scraping old paint of my pallet, oh Schama’s Power of Art: Rothko on youtube!, i’m hungry, music or audiobook or music or audiobook or music or audiobook…) i finally just jumped in and knocked purple shirt’s head out. I was uncertain how if felt about the result, but snapped a pic after and called it a night. The next morning i returned to my studio and while i knew the section would require further work, i exclaimed “It doesn’t suck!”.
It’s moments like that keep me working.
And once again, the moral of the story is to just step up and face your fears and just get working.
Goddamnit. There goes that excuse.
I saw this beautiful piece in the Spring of 2010. I was in Barcelona for Spring Break, or Semana Santa in the local parlance, with a friend who was studying in Madrid at the time. The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya or MNAC sits atop a hill that rises up south of Plaça d’Espanya. Sitting on the steps just off the MNAC’s façade, you are treated to a panorama view of the city. If you’re there when the sun is setting, at least in late March, the panorama turns glorious. The distant sky above is still warm. Purple shaded hills frame the scene, while the western walls of the hundreds of geometric buildings in the city’s lowland light up with this orange golden light. The buildings also cast rich shadows that, with the light, create a countlessly textured scene. A readymade cubist painting, is what i thought at the time. No wonder Picasso kept coming back here.
As for A Little Empordà Village, it’s just one of several paintings by Gimeno in the MNAC, but it was my favorite. I don’t think there’s a single pure color on the canvas, but the different hues coming together just work so well, and the color light is continued perfectly into the shadows that the painting just glows. Lovely glowing colors. Warm yellow and greens intermingle with neutral reds and oranges in the light. The loveliness continues in the darks with the same reds and with purpley blues. Thick coats of paint layered on top of each other again and again make a rich, yet relatively even, surface. No muddle. No fuss. Just a beautiful portrait of a city who’s roots go back over a thousand years.
All that color is held together in a composition which mixes classic two-point perspective and foreshortening with an expert hand. It’s both a triangle coming at you and a series of flat planes coming together. And all broken up by nature’s nature—the shadow in the foreground, the clouds in the sky and the mountain between.
I wrote in my journal at the time ‘Good gracious he could paint.’ It’s too bad (yet understandable) that art history has to focus so much on the major canonical pieces. There is much awesomeness off the main road.