Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Hopelessness of Non-mutual Attraction

A day of work! In the morning I began tracing the underdrawing to The Infinite Tiredness of Ageing. Then I began work on a new composition, one of two tasks left for this month. It's amazing how many I have achieved despite spending a week or so working on plaster experiments, and many days trapped in the annual Christmas doldrums. I resolve to paint more positive glorious pictures next year but foe now will concentrate on the power of loss once more. The painting to be planned is to be called, assuming it is good enough to paint at all, The Hopelessness of Non-mutual Attraction and is about desire for someone unattainable, an obsession that cannot be.

The idea sketch in shown below and was scribbled when the idea hit.

Mentally the colours were like those in my painting Sunset With Rose Petals, but I also toyed with the idea of using pinks and greys as in Half a Broken Heart.

Stage one was to create model for the main figure. I use plasticine, which is a perfect modelling material for this. Before starting I posed myself in positions that would sum up the mood and took some photographs, then I got out my anatomy book and checked the muscles on limbs once more, these things all help when an anthropomorphic monolith is needed. I then modelled and photographed the sculpture, using the idea sketch as primary reference. That sketch is the map, it's as much a mnemonic as a guide because by seeing it I can remember the feeling and image that I had in my head when I drew it. The model is shown below.

The heart shape is plastic and made from a material called polymorph which is heat softened and then easily moulded.

Once photographed I decided on the size for the picture. An aspect like "The Transmittance of Pity..." seemed right so I chose those dimensions, then entered photoshop to create a compositional mock-up. Then I opened up Terragen and experimented with sky colours. Realism has its limitations but the rapid visualisation possibilities can be beneficial.

I began with turquoise with a yellow sunset, then tried more conventional colours. The realistic sky looked prettier, but this was at odds with the scene and mood, which in the idea sketch was sadder than mere blue. This is no time for Beirstadtian sentimentalism, melancholic truth is needed.

The green was too bright. I selected a modification of the blue and elected for a rose and turquoise scheme. These colours work well together and signify lost love exactly. The Intensity of the falling rose hearts, which are already venetian red in my head, will perfectly compliment the subtle rose sunset and grey blue shadows. I added rough blobs for the heart shapes, which will also be rose petals. I also added a gold skylight to heaven and a crack of lightning, but here unlike in the idea sketch the lightning acts as a barrier. That represented a lack of confidence, so it makes a perfect barrier on an intellectual level and putting it right there increases the distance between the figure and the distant left side, which is now palpable. The pain slices into the right hand of the figure. A lighthouse begged to be added, so was, to the top sky with a dominant but distant view (like all lighthouses). The mock-up at this stage is shown.

The water is not part of the picture but had been added to create a flat plane for this mock-up. Some figures of desire are now to be added, and a hidden pentacle at the vanishing point to create a sense of balance on the calm left side of the picture.

How much further this picture will evolve is a mystery. After the first day, much is left to do and more than half of all pictures that reach this stage do not get painted. The key factor is to stay true to the meaning and feeling of the concept, so constant evaluation is needed. I must ensure that the picture conveys not mere loss but thwarted obsession which still remains. All other factors are secondary.


Anonymous said...

Amazing Mark! I've wondered about your process- and now I have a better feel for it. You use sketches and photos and sculpture to enable you to create a computer rendition- then decide if all this work is worthy of paint. Is that correct? If an idea makes it to the paint stage- what's next? How do you take it to canvas or whatever medium you choose?

Mark Sheeky said...

The next big step is to get a piece of paper the same size as the final picture and draw it out, typically copying bits from the models or mock-ups. Then transferring that drawing (outlines) to the painting surface, then painting it, sometimes with a (small) test version first to check the colours in paint.

Kathy said...

Mark - your methodological approach is both highly creative and unique! It's always an "eye-opener" for me to read how you transform definitive moments into surrealistic encapsulations of mood. Truly masterful!

-Don said...

Mark, Thanks for sharing your process. I work similarly in that I take every concept into Photoshop and get busy. I love being able to explore color and composition with the immediacy Photoshop allows.

I love your idea of modeling your "anthropomorphic monoliths" in plasticine before taking them to the canvas. What a clever way of working out your fantastical imagery to get realistic shadow pattern and form.

And finally, your way with words is amazing. I'm enthralled, inspired and intimidated all at once. Keep up the great work!


Mark Sheeky said...

Thanks Kathy and Don. Yes photoshop is useful, I find it good for testing colours but still find the need for a goodl old pencil, and paint to check how things will work in real life. Don't feel intimidated! I'm happy to inspire and even enthrall though :)