Thursday, February 17, 2011
Through the Grass
Original oil painting 18x24"
by Susan Roux
I almost didn't post this painting. I just completed it with my class and it looks so different from the series I'm working on in my private time, that I hesitated to show it.
It's interesting when your work evolves and you're a teacher, because what you're teaching still resembles your older stuff. I think of my galleries and wonder, what they will do with these varying looks? I'm not sure they can even hang together...
But there is a story behind this work.
Class started this painting before Christmas. It's been a long road, between cancellations for snow days and holidays. It was also a good challenge for both students and myself to direct them through this complicated scene. Fields of wild grasses are one of my favorite subjects. How I love to let my paintbrush dip in colors and scribble the canvas. Most of it is spontaneous and therefore hard to describe to a student. The other difficulty was having several figures. Those figures are where my little story lies.
My studio is downstairs. It's too small to teach in, so I hold my classes in the dining room. Every week after classes, I'd remove the plastic from my table, replace the tablecloth and assemble the chairs around it. As time passed and the number of classes increased (I'm teaching 5 a week now) my dining room became a second studio. It's a rare occasion when I pull out the wall-matching tablecloth and replace the chairs. As one class rolls into another and I try to paint on my own, the partially painted canvasses collect. I often place them against the hallway wall where the staircase is. Some of them make it all the way down to the real studio, but lately most of them line the hall. It's sort of like a floor-level gallery.
One day as my husband came up the stairs, the figures in the above painting were directly in his sight. I hadn't painted figures in my work in awhile at the time and he complimented me on them. He seemed so delighted that when Don Hatfield called that week, I mentioned having put figures in my work. I asked if he wanted me to send him an image? Totally expecting him to give me an enthusiastic yes, I was quite surprised by his response.
Rather than ask to see the figures, he began to talk to me about the danger of painting figures in a scene. He spoke of how they too often jump out at you and in actuality they should be part of the scene. I remembered how he taught us to let our strokes move from the background into our portraits and reverse. My mind started to wonder (like it doesn't already do enough of that on it's own...) and inspiration emerged.
I pulled out a fresh canvas and a photo of a girl. I had one thing in mind. Make the figure be part of the background. Frolicking is what I created and this is how my latest series started... The big difference was not drawing my figure. When I do, I want to stay within the lines. This time I began with paint, not a pencil.
So it's for this reason that I've posted this painting. Sometimes it's nice to know where and why something new began.
This brings us back to Champagne Thursday... which will be held next week, February 24 at 5:oo pm. The address is 94 Shore Drive, Freeport, Maine. Please come. Admission is champagne and an appetizer. I'll be away painting all next week. Sure hope this sinus thing moves on before Saturday!