With Flame, I have completed my tenth painting using the painterly photography of Whitney Browne as reference (www.whitneybrowne.com). In her series, Dance for the Photographic Eye, I came across a portrait of a dancer, Raul Acanda, and knew I wanted to paint him. I did what I do: chose a big canvas, cropped the image, focused on his upper body and aspirational pose and called the painting Reach. I spent the summer on another couple of paintings but kept being drawn back to Whitney’s photograph, so I decided to use Raul as a model again to paint the source of his strength…his fulcrum…his lower body. The two paintings will be hung together side by side.
Until I started the painting, I didn’t realize how blatantly sexual it would be. The very size of the 40” X 40” canvas puts the image in your face. Titles suggested by some of my paint people and my husband included The Package and Red Hot, while a more esoteric friend thought Golden Ratio would work. I settled on Flame for a few reasons: he is red hot, like a flame; a flame is a source of heat; a small flame can set a big fire. Once again, people who passed by the studio and saw me painting him had their own commentary, usually accompanied by snickering. Quite a physical specimen, Raul…you should probably be the one snickering.
How delightful to end a relaxing holiday weekend with the news that Reach won a Special Merit Award in the Painting and Other Media category of the LightSpaceTime Online Gallery Open Art Exhibition for September 2018! The gallery received 702 entries from 31 different countries from around the world, as well as from 39 different states, and I am honored to be included with 64 other artists in this category. You can enjoy a slide show of this exhibition on lightspacetime.art by clicking on the thumbnail image on their website, which will then display larger images.
I like to name my paintings…to give them titles that convey at least some of what I’m feeling and thinking about them as they come together from drawing to finished piece. This beast of a 40” X 40” canvas took a couple of weeks to paint, giving me more than enough time to think of a name for it. The dancer is so powerful, so focused, so aspirational in this moment frozen in time that I chose to call it Reach. I see him on the prow of a ship, on top of a mountain, on a stage in a theater, on top of the world, calling to mind Robert Browning’s poem, Andrea del Sarto, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?” In what I now call my first life, I was a high school English teacher and taught creative writing; now I’m a painter, who continues to write and just quoted a poet who used a painter for his subject…now that’s the circle of life.
Thanks again to Whitney Browne, a most painterly photographer who allows me to use her images for inspiration. See what she does, especially Dance for the Photographic Eye, at http://www.whitneybrowne.com.