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A Not-So-Traditional Conceptual Realist

So this post is just for fun and to show you some of my process - both painting and conceptual.  I privately think of my style as conceptual realism, although it bears no connection to what is known as Conceptual Realism in the mind of the general public.  That's okay, it's merely a way to describe what and why I paint, and to evaluate the results.


The set-up:  Almost the view from my easel.  The print of a Paul Cornoyer painting works to create an interesting pattern that repeats the lines of the copper pot and the carpet.  I was interested in creating a sense of calm with added exotic/antiquity elements to describe a sense of a by-gone era.  I also wanted the compositional eye movement to build in an oval/spiral pattern using the light falling on the figurine, the drape, the top of the pot into the background lights on the print. The primary movement is a downward calming angle from the upper left to lower right, which counters the rising energy in the implied angle from the cat's head to the top of the pot.  So lets see if I can do this.


IMG_0382After a period of time drawing in my sketchbook, I felt like starting to place the initial forms.  I am using a warm toned canvas and starting to place the dark shapes using a wash of raw umber - I often go to raw umber for a darker neutral but I am now making an effort not to take this short cut because the umber will dry as very dark and colorless.  For the next stages I mixed up a dark using several of the paints that went into the rest of the painting.  This stage was to evaluate the placements and as you can see the wash is of the consistency of watercolor.

At this point I am starting to define the darker areas to see how this pattern will ultimately connect throughout the painting and support my idea of the descending and ascending diagonals, balanced by the verticals.




IMG_0385Since the figurine is the focal point and probably the most critical shape in terms of accurate drawing, I wanted to get it in first, painting very thinly and establishing the lightest light available to me in this painting.  All the other lights need to be balanced against this form - not as light, or as much contrast, but with the intent of supporting the conceptual ideas relating to the mood and movement.

I originally had the jaguar sitting on a broken tile I picked up in Italy, but discarded it as the painting progressed. 


IMG_0386At this point I have established the shapes and some of the major and/or implied lines and repeating elements such as the tree branch repeating the curve of the spout on the pot, which repeats the curve of the handle.  The angle of the cat's back is repeated in the drape to the right and the street angle on the left. 

The real problem solving that went on with the painting actually begins at this point.  The primary issue was the color harmony and values that I was seeing in my set-up, and how to translate that using pigments.  Since I was interested in the visual contrast of the warmth of the copper against all the cool grays in the print,the carpet, and the vivid contrast of warm and cool in the cat, I decided to find the pot colors first.  Of course this was also the easiest - but the first color choice is always the easiest, while getting everything else to work well is the hard part. 

After this point, I was concentrating so hard on solving these visual problems that I neglected to take more photos.  My colors were selected as warm and cool versions, keeping with a red-orange base and it's compliment of a dark greenish blue. 

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Paul Cornoyer Print with Pot and Figurine, 24 x 20, oil on canvas

This painting was created using both transparents and opaques: transparent earth red, yellow ochre burnt, oxide yellow, yellow ochre light, burnt carmine, hansa yellow medium, brown oxide, Vay Dyke brown, cobalt blue, modigliani ochre, raw sienna, prussian blue, raw umber, titaniam white, and Gamblin's solvent free gel.