Sunday, February 3, 2008

I like a challenge

....... detail at beginning of hunt scene......

There is a joke among painters. And I ask it myself occaisionaly. People will ask how long it takes to finish a painting, and the answer is something like " 35 years, 11 days and 9 hours".

While driving to meet my painting friends yesterday, I accidently came upon the beginning of a foxhunt. Since horses are one of my favorite things, I turned the car around to take photos. I probably snapped 80 in 15 minutes.
I was so excited to join my painting friends and select one of the photos to make into a painting. I made a rapid decision and selected a scene featuring the wonderful winter landscape as the riders made their start following the huntsman and hounds. It was a lovely morning after a rain that made the red dirt of the cotton field stand out, crossed by thin bright morning light through the trees.

Well, that was how it looked. Now getting there in paint is another matter. My usual practice is to work alla prima into wet paint, using the freshness and excitement to take me as far as possible until I just get too tired. If I'm lucky, the painting is finished, or needs adjustments later. And if I'm lucky, I know the adjustments it needs.

This is as far as I could take it before stopping to drive back home. I was really tired. Every brushstroke is a decision, as I tell students. So that was all my little brain could handle. I misjudged what it will take to finish the painting. But I do like a challenge, and I'm still excited about the subject, and expect a series will come from the photos. It would have been nice to paint on location at the hunt. Too much going on......don't want to miss a single gesture.
So to answer the question "how long" - some are finished in an hour, some take days. Do you count the contemplation time where answers form? Do you count the planning stage? And there are many different approaches to painting that change the equation.
Check back to see the finish for this one. Title suggestions?
This one is 18x24, oil, of course

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