On the Roof is 2 a.m. in my Hours of the Day series, and it is one of my favorite paintings from my entire career. I think that is because I succeeded in stripping it down to bare basics, from a starting point that was quite gaudy. It was also my first major attempt at using a classical 17th century Dutch painting technique, and that delivered a subtlety that was missing in so much of my earlier work. The painting depicts a father and teenage son on the roof of their home in the middle of the night. The father reaches out, worried, while the son gazes at the heavens in a lost reverie.
I have always liked this work. The weird isolation between figures and between viewer and the “actors” in this painting remind of George Tooker.
I especially like Tooker’s earlier work, and his whole group, with Cadmus and French, are heroes of representational painting in America. They lived through some pretty rough times. I can’t say they were direct influences, but I certainly admire their efforts.
Scott, thanks so much for your Technique posting. You’re really generous with sharing knowledge. I will of course be sending you all my practice boards for critique now…. heh heh heh
I will eventually post the egg and oil Mixed Technique that I shared with you on facebook. Probably with the 6 a.m. Hour in my Hours of the Day series. After looking over what I gave you, though, I’ll need to revise it. Let me know how it turns out if you try it.
Awesome. Let’s open a new wing of OpenMuseum and call it OpenClassroom. You can share all your secrets! Seriously, it’s so helpful to read these explanations, see the sketches and learn how professional painters execute.
The technical information (in facet 10) is included not only because I like to share what I know, but also because I think the technique in this painting helped propel the content. The subtle hues of the night sky would not have stood up to a blast of color in the figures, and the classical technique also lent the contemporary composition a little ‘gravitas’.
On the Roof
F. Scott Hess (b. 1955)
On the Roof
oil on canvas
48 × 64 inches
2 am in The Hours of the Day series.
San Jose Museum of Art