Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"Stand By Me"

Oil, 20" tondo, which means in circular format - and the frame itself is circular, not square. (Did you know that a circle centered within a square canvas placed in a square frame is usually surrounded by a spandrel?) I said 'spandrel', not 'spaniel', those are English Pointers up there, not spaniels.

This is the third of my three paintings at the Women Painting Women: (R)evolution Show at Principle Gallery, opening September 20th, 2013.  (I have other paintings at the gallery, too, which you can see by going over to my website and clicking around.) And I have two other paintings at the (R)evolution show, already discussed on this blog here and down here also.

This piece was enormous fun in a technical sense. Lots and lots of layers and special paint effects. I can go into this, given the slightest encouragement.

This painting is reminding me again about how much I don't like to explain my work. This is my beautiful daughter in a vaguely woodland setting with two dogs. All three are gazing into the distance and none are gazing in the same direction, and none of them are gazing in the westerly direction, so not all the bases are covered in terms of watchfulness. (All bases can never be covered in terms of watchfulness.)

It isn't a portrait of my daughter in the sense that it's supposed show her doing what she does in the usual course of her life, except that knowing her, it's entirely possible that she does in fact wear a long cape and red gloves while surrounded by dogs in woodland settings. This is indeed more likely to take place in her case than anyone else you are likely ever to meet - except in reality, there would be at least three or four more dogs in the setting around her. But "Stand By Me" is a figurative painting, not directly about her life, it's metaphoric and narrative, and it's not an obvious narrative.

Generally, I want my paintings to be honest, sympathetic, thoughtful, powerful, sensitive... all that... but I also want to paint positive aspects of human experience, especially when it comes to painting women. Here, I wanted to show bravery and the decision to take care of others who need your help. So I put my daughter in this painting to reflect one of my own emotions; I suppose this is a somewhat autobiographical piece, from my own experience.

Remember when...
... you were a little girl and you dreamed of your future, you read all the stories about Andromeda and Perseus and Rapunzel and the Prince, and you decided that no, you didn't want to be the passive, helpless one hanging around, waiting for rescue and anyway, you wanted to be the one with the courage and bravery and guts to slay dragons and bad guys and save people, and besides, the chances were very slim that you would ever be pretty enough to inspire a dramatic rescue by a handsome princely hero, and only later in life did you figure out that the other side of the equation, the requirement for heroism, which by the way is something men have had to deal with all their lives since they rarely have the Andromeda/Rapunzel option, was to go through tremendous hardship, great risk, probable failure and a possible grisly, unappreciated death?!

So maybe you didn't have that particular dream, which is fine, also.

I like paintings that invite dialogs since it can get so tedious if a painting just ends up to be a monologue. A painting is, in a sense, a house guest that (we hope) remains interesting for at least a while and doesn't just drone on and on and on forever or get up in your face too much.

Mainly I wanted people to look at this painting and wonder, who is standing by and who is protecting whom? Is there a moment of choice involved? When you look at this painting, do you assume the dogs are standing by the woman, or is the woman standing by the dogs?

If you own an English Pointer, by the way, you will know that these dogs aren't watching out or standing guard for anybody, they are probably just looking around for birds, or maybe a dog treat.

Today is September 11th, let us remember all the brave firefighters and heroes who have chosen to protect us and given their lives for us. And let's keep praying for peace.

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