Monday, August 30, 2010

A summer update (finally)!

Angel signing in. It’s been a long, hot summer and the “Janus Head” portrait is on hold. When we paint together, out-of-doors is really the way to go, but it will have to wait for a Florida Autumn. Still, here are a few images of the work-in-progress!

In the mean time, we’ve been quite busy.  The website ( has been updated, and we’ve FINALLY completed the Literary Portraits.  Since I’ve been completely blog-less for a while, I thought I’d write about my reflections on the past two portraits I’ve completed during this collaboration.

Internal Crossroad

I really got to know Stephanie by working on this one. Our early conversations often found their way back to spiritual territory…fate, reincarnation…. I could see her in a cemetery, in a field. I also saw her surrounded by papers. She’s always working in her sketchbook – I envy her consistent practice! She keeps her notes, sketches, inspirations and instructional materials close by, and she always had something new to show me. As the sketch for this painting developed, I began to include some of her favorite things, such as the quotes on the papers, and the tombs of Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allen Poe. The reference for her face was taken from an old photo she had…it was taken in a freight elevator by a college friend, and she really looked like some dead silent movie actress. That photo captured something about her, so I had to include it in this image as well. Some of my own imagery snuck in…such as the radio towers (communication / human spirit) and the mausoleum (local, personal landmark).
What I found interesting about the process behind this one was how easily we worked together. We didn’t have to make agreements and compromises about format and color scheme…the paintings just evolved naturally as we worked in the same studio.

Motive Power

It’s no secret that Stephanie and I both labored over these Literary Portraits. We ran into a lot of snags. Even photographing these were difficult!
My half of this diptych depicts my self-portrait in the form of Dagny Taggart (the heroine of Atlas Shrugged – the epic novel by Ayn Rand). I included many symbols that relate to the story: the train (the railroad Dagny runs), the bracelet (her lover, Hank), the newspaper (her former lover, Francisco), the headphones (the music that gives her strength), and the motor (John Galt – what she is chasing throughout the story). Ayn Rand’s books have been a great source of inspiration for me, and Dagny’s character was always one I could relate to. She’s strong, driven and capable, but also stubborn and prone to taking others’ responsibilities on her shoulders. The apocalyptic aura of the story was also attractive to me, as well as the theme of the train. I spent time photographing trains off of the turnpike extension in Miami to get references for this painting…that might have been the most fun part of making this image! The eerie feeling of those night shots helped inspire the surreal quality of this painting, where Dagny is searching for something that is out of reach.

Our new as-of-yet-untitled “Childhood” diptych!
We’re still working on these. Here are some sneak peeks. Will write more on these later!