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Friday, 5 July 2013

Thinking Behind a Painting

Friends, Shambhalans, countrymen (and countrywomen), lend me your eyes...

Actually, not your eyes, but your _'s.  _ am m_ss_ng some, and could do with borrow_ng your _'s (sounds l_ke eyes but _s a letter).

Cool, I found them again!

Anyway, I thought I'd give you a little insight into how I create paintings.  I'd love to hear about your art or books by the way, and also how you go about your creativity.  You can email me at danielgrantnewton (AT) gmail (DOT) com

Step 1: I come up with a scene and rough it out (see below).  The scenes I choose usually come into my head from the Unicorn Keepers of Imagination, but they are more than just a picture.  They are part of a larger story that invite the viewer to co-create the story with me.  Kind of like what I was talking about last blog article in regards to books and comics.

It's on a train, with two commuters in the background, and two police/soldiers with flashlights checking passengers. One of them spots the man in the foreground with a flashlight. The context of what the men are looking for, and why the man in the foreground is going to get in trouble, and will he be caught or escape, and what happened up to this point and after this point, and where the train is heading, and who they all are, is for you, the viewer, to create.  He will be however holding a bible, which means he could be just worried and praying, or that he is being targeted for his religion, and the flashlight will have a double meaning as being touched by the Holy Ghost.

In this picture I planned to create a boy who perhaps lost his kite and found it by a group of mysterious Romani people camped out in a field, or was catching bugs that led him there.  Although the rest of the camp do not spot him, he and a young girl the same age catch each other's gaze, and destiny awaits them.  However, the adults are packing up camp so there is the question of whether this would be a fleeting moment, or whether one will approach the other and begin a relationship, or whether their destinies are intertwined in ways greater than a chance meeting.  As you will see, this idea was expanded on greater when the paint hit the canvas.
Step 2: Keep the basic composition, but ignore the details, and let my personal unicorn painter and I expand upon the seed of an idea.  See the results below.

As you can see here, the basic premise did not change much.  I added graphic elements, such as foreshortening, but the main story line has not changed.  That said, in my original conception I made the character more of an Indiana Jones type character, concealing a gun under his coat, whereas this man looks more 'ordinary', but with his mind visibly racing through different scenarios and reactions, and his jacket under his arm ready to run perhaps.
In this painting however, a lot has changed.  Most noticeably, the characters have grown up, the girl now has her eyes closed and has a tear sliding down her cheek as she looks back at the boy, and the characters around the camp seem ghostly (perhaps they are apparitions rather than alive people).  The expression of the girl implies that they were romantically involved, but she is leaving either against her will or because of what had happened between them (the wind dramatizes these feelings).  Also, the boy now appears to have ridden his bike to come see her go, rather than having just found her by chance.  And so as the characters in the scene have grown and become more colourful, so has the story and emotion.