Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Only You (in progress)

I'm now six weeks into this painting and here's the progress so far:

Only You, in progress, 45" x 75"

Painters looking at this photo will realize that I paint backwards. I always do the faces first, and then work out the colors of the clothing and environment. A more traditional and time-honored method is to work from back to front, from thinly painted translucent shadows to thicker opaque high-lights - as in a classic Rembrandt.

Self-Portrait with Beret
Rembrandt van Rijn
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Another traditional approach is under-painting - blocking in some colors at the beginning to help establish the tone and direction of the piece. In my work, however, I prefer to leave the linen surface as white as possible because I believe it gives the overlaying layer of color more luminosity and clarity. If I apply the paint layer to an under-painted surface, I find the color is duller, flatter, because what's underneath influences what's on top - much in the same way that when repainting a room, it will take more coats to successfully hide a darker tone.

The next step for me will be to paint the two large heads on the "movie screen" that fills the right third of the painting. After that, I will begin on the walls which will be varying tones of red.

Below are three photos of details:

detail of upper left, approx. 26" x 35"

detail of lower left-center, approx. 28" x 50"

popcorn, approx. 14" x 11"


  1. Andrew, your blogposts about how you create your paintings are so very informative. I love learning about how you approach painting and why you do what you do. This is going to be one hella painting, wow!

  2. Over the years your apparent obsession with popcorn has produced several significant works of art. "Only You" appears to be another. Delicious! No one paints popcorn better than you!

  3. I think this is a very important piece; it has both scope and ambition. I was intrigued by the initial drawings: the perspective, and the intimate relationship of the audience with the two larger than life actors on the big screen. I am even more fascinated now as the painting takes color and shape.

    The comparison with di Buoninsegna which you alluded to in one of your earlier posts is especially appropriate. The emotions of di Buoninsegna's audience are of course different from those of the movie goers. They are after all watching reality play out in that particular theater, sensing I think the fateful consequences of the meeting between the central characters, Jesus and Pilate. Conversely, the movie audience is there to escape the reality of their lives, suspending belief for a period of time. Nevertheless, in both works the main protagonists are "larger than life", and the audience in each work watches with rapt attention, entirely focused on the drama unfolding in front of them. Quite fascinating.



"There is more power in telling little than in telling all."
- Mark Rothko

“The mind loves the unknown. It loves images whose meanings are unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown.”
- Magritte

"Now, the idea is to get everything right -- it's not just color or form or space or line -- it's everything all at once."
- Richard Diebenkorn

“What I am seeking is not the real and not the unreal but rather the unconscious,
the mystery of the instinctive in the human race.”
- Amedeo Modigliani