It came from Out of the Past- from 1947, to be exact. This scene from the famous film noir inspired images in my head that I couldn't shake.
So, in April 2021, I took a video of myself in costume walking down the stairs. Then I created a large drawing from that video. From that I developed a painting... But, like many worthwhile endeavors in life, there were twists, turns, and backtracks along the way.
I love working off of colored, textured grounds. So, in early May, I got off to an interesting start by using purple watercolor and allowing it to drip down the panel.
I sized the image of the drawing in photoshop, printed it out on sheets of paper, and transferred a light image of it onto a panel. Then, using the drawing and the photographs as a reference, I started the painting.
I spent a bunch of time creating a wood grain effect on the stairs, thinking the reddish tone would enhance my purple shadows.
I also "closed up" the space, by making sure all walls, stairs and shadows were touching each other, enclosing the figure in with no way to "escape".
This all happened from early May to late June. I set Exit aside. I worked on other projects, such as The Hanged Man and Watch.
There may have been a beach trip or two as well...
All the while, I kept looking at Exit out of the corner of my eye... June ended... July ran its course...
I kept thinking... this could be better.
It doesn't have the glossy dark depth I had envisioned...
It needs... blue.
Here I am, paintbrush in mouth, glazing a layer of Prussian blue over my painting.
I also repainted the exit sign and made it larger.
I changed her shoes from black to white.
I even painted over the precious wood grain stairs I had worked so hard on.
Then, after all this, I realized the exit sign was no longer needed. In fact, it had become a distraction. Now that I had all my moody blues creating atmosphere, I wanted the woman to be the focus, as if a spotlight were shining on her. So, using a razor blade, I scratched it out.
With a tiny scrap of red paper and a bit of tape, I was able to see where to put my lovely vintage exit sign.
As I write this, the exit sign has been redone for a FORTH time-
Finally, finally, I believe it is done. It started in May, and ran off and on until September.
We live in a world of expediency, instant gratification and digital wizardry. But along the way, there has been a growing appreciation of the slow. For example, slow foods, artisanal cheese, vintage wine, and hand-made crafts are all important social and financial movements.
By sharing the process of my art, I hope to celebrate the slow and deliberate. Just like life, many artistic pursuits take a long and winding road. Part of what makes art, art, is that the artist takes the time to follow that road wherever it leads.
This little book was a staple in my house, as it was in many peoples’ houses. It was a book that was used to gently, or not so gently tease me when I was small.
I was a very poky little puppy.
It was an affectionate and perhaps slightly desperate attempt to get me to look up, to focus, to walk faster, and stop dawdling! The rest of my family seemed to be endlessly charging ahead, onto the next, and the next, and the next activity.Attention Deficit Disorder, Inattentive Type. Much of my middle age has been spent trying to manage my errant mind with new found understanding, and to making up for time lost drifting through my almost rudderless young adulthood.
Frustrating, yes, but ADD is closely associated with having a creative mind. No one really knows why. I think it is because all that wandering brings one to unexpected shores and vistas. I heard it once described this way; if one doesn’t think linearly, (marching forward along a path), then one tends to think laterally, that is, back and forth and side to side.
A curious feature in many folks with ADD is called “hyper-focus”. This is when my normally wandering mind suddenly gets into gear, and I become completely engrossed in one activity for long periods of time. This is what happens when I make art.
I have come to recognize that I am a slow, deliberate artist. Each new attempt takes a long process of conceiving, sketching, drawing, transferring, painting, maybe collaging. When I am “done” with a piece, I will set it aside for weeks, months, and peer at it as it sits in the corner of my studio. I glance at it over the rim of my coffee cup, send it sidelong glances as I work with another piece. Then, often, it hits me. “It needs this…”
I will go back into the painting, and it will transform, like a make-over or a mid-life crisis. It will deepen and mature. Having that time to let it hibernate and incubate will often make a good piece into a great one.
One such slow transformation unspooled during the creation of Exit, one of my latest pieces of art. You can read about the creation of this painting here, in The Saga of Exit.
Take a Closer Look.
Here is an intimate, in depth glimpse into my thoughts, inspiration and artistic process.
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