Letting go

What originally drew me to this image was the details: the bright orange barrier in the foreground, the shapes of the backboards, the subtle color in the trees.  But working on the painting I realized that these weren’t what the picture was about.  What makes it compelling is the dark trees against the brighter sky, and the long repeated horizontals of grass, pavement, grass, trees.  I may add some of the details back in the next layer, but to capture the atmosphere I had to let them go.

I feel a little nervous posting the next version of the big painting because its at one of those awkward stages where the parts don’t fit together yet.  I’d been dreading adding the cars.  Cars are always tricky for me because—like faces— their shapes are so distinctive that we pick up right away if they are a little off.  Also I find cars to be generally pretty ugly.  But the river of cars is the subject of this picture, so there was no avoiding it.

Overall I think they went in okay.  I tried to simplify them to a few basic geometric strokes, to keep the looseness of the rest of the painting, but still read as cars.  They look pretty drab here because they aren’t wearing their lights yet.  Also, you can see that all the depth and color relationships are off, with the orange cones and red scaffolding popping out and the focus of the painting— the ramps onto the bridge— still barely sketched in.  But I think it was good to put that red in because now I know what the rest of the painting has to fight against.  If at the end the red can be that bright but not pull your attention to it then I will have succeeded.

Obviously I still have a long way to go.