Vacationland (detail)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Combined elements

I am often asked about how I put the elements of paintings together. This painting "Outlook" from 2008 is a good example of how an idea can evolve over time.
The setting is my dear friend Chris' breezeway at her home in Ashfield, Mass.. The morning light in this bright room is lovely and dramatic as it cuts through the space. Chris, an avid birder, keeps her binocs handy and they often rest on the table where her cats perch and also watch the birds--though with nefarious intent. When I began the painting I did not have a figure in the scene, though I had recently been painting my friend Kate and had a few outtakes from our sessions that seemed interesting and paintable. The painting sat unfinished for a while, but in the meantime Bob, one of Chris' two Siamese cats, was lost to a hungry bobcat. After thinking about Chris' loss, I decided that putting a cat in the painting would be a nice homage to Bob and to the feeling of loss that we have when we lose a companion animal. (Though the cat in the painting is actually another cat who lives here in Maine.) When I combined these elements; the setting, the cat, and the figure--whose blurry action seems to indicate either arriving or leaving--the painting came together for me. Oh, and I had to put red shoes on the floor--just because I love to paint shoes.

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