Waiting for a gift

Here are two more pieces for my new series. It takes time to complete these, but they seem to go very fast compared to my oil paintings, which an acquaintance recently described as “meticulous.” Maybe a little too meticulous. I’ve recently thought about loosening up a bit more, though my painting isn’t nearly as tight as that of a bona fide photorealist.

One thing that continues to interest me is the play of light on reflective or translucent objects. I am constantly looking for new challenges. So, I decided to try depicting these surfaces with pastel, a surprisingly adaptable medium. I’m not sure I succeeded in capturing more than an impression of cellophane in this first painting. But that’s fine because I’m trying to push toward a surreal feeling and to suggest some kind of tale involving these characters (porcelain and plastic figures), who appear as if on a stage. The cellophane springing from underneath this princess is rather like electric sparks.

The other pastel painting is a still-life of a 1930s-era crystal centerpiece I found in an antique store. I was so intrigued with it I had to have it. Its branches are wrapped in tin foil and it has two glass vials nested in it for sprigs of flowers. Some of the leaves are broken and the foil has disintegrated here and there. But I can still imagine how it looked on someone’s dining room table long ago, surrounded by period china.

While I made this painting, I had one of those moments, which I relish in making art – a momentary decision that makes all the difference. For me, it was seeing a double shadow cast late in the day after the sun had gone down and a lamp was still lighting the work. So I quickly reworked all the shadows behind the centerpiece and this was the result.

Several months ago, I attended a lecture by one of my favorite contemporary painters, Peter Doig. When talking about his process he said that sometimes he just simply waits for a “gift” to come to him – some spontaneous stroke or addition of color that is almost like magic. I think it’s just a matter of hanging in there with the work and it will eventually come to you.

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