The Secret Service agents were banging on my door. “We’re here to pick up the President’s painting, and the beef stoganoff.” Hell, I hadn’t finished the six-by-eight painting, and the mushrooms were sitting on the chopping block, uncut, the stroganoff uncooked. “It’s not done yet!” There was a short pause, “Sir, you can’t keep the President waiting! He has a rally in the park.”
I don’t usually get ideas for paintings in my dreams, but A Weight of Blue Sky was delivered to me nearly whole as a painting I was making for Ronald Reagan. I awoke with a start, and sketched it out. The only difference was this: in the dream the man in the painting had the legs of a chicken! I included those in the final piece, but tucked innocuously into the underbrush.
DUDE!! I LOVE the fish eye perspective on this. He’s on a planet that is only 40 miles in diameter!!! Even at this scale I feel like I am going to have to catch this guy as he falls out onto the floor.
Messing with perspective is one of the joys of having a good understanding of how it works. In the 80s work I squeezed it around a good deal. It mainly derives from a desire to see on the canvas what your mind’s eye sees. The mind is much broader than the eye.
Hi Scott. Miss you at the drawing workshop. Seems to me that consciously or unconsciously, the composition has a precedent in Bruegel’s Fall of Icarus (1558?). I was fascinated by that spacial shift and played with it in a pen and ink drawing and acrylic paint on paper back in 1979 entitled “Theory of Landscape.” I made the curvature of the earth more extreme by halving the earths diameter to 4000 miles. I’ll attach a scan of a badly scratched and slightly out of focus slide. I’ve still got the piece, so maybe I should pop it out from behind the glass of the frame to rephotograph it. Bruegel loved that kind of abrupt spatial shift and used it on multiple occasions (See the Hunters in the Snow and the Harvesters from 1565 and Landscape with the Magpie on the Gallows from 1568.
Nice image, Henry. I love Breughel, but certainly had no conscious connection here. In the 80s pieces I played with the vertigo effect in a lot of paintings, and pushed the perspective shifts as much as I could. You can get away with a lot in a painting and still make it feel right.
It’s so interesting, I just had an idea for a painting with a wacky perspective a few days ago in which the viewer would be looking up at a man stabbed.. Seeing this painting is great because the idea was basically the exact opposite of this perspective, just with the figures larger and more focused.
Sizzling heat! and the bush on the left is just poised, waiting to strike; you can see the tentacles almost writhing!
So the chicken legs are there, in the underpainting? Am I correct? Is this the one time you didn’t photograph the work in this state, or are you just not wanting us to see them?!!
Once again, great to see a new work.
The chicken legs are in the undergrowth, the grass. Very small. Even as I sketched the guy out, sleep-heavy, I realized the chicken legs had to go.
I don’t think I have any development sketches, and don’t know where the original little dream sketch is. I didn’t need to change much, but did go out and find a landscape, above Lake Hollywood, that fit the bill. It really was delivered almost whole from the dream.
I think the beef stroganoff was most likely a metaphor for the unfinished painting. Cooking- painting-mixing ingredients to create. Your mind might have felt the weight of the sky.
Dreams have been a real fountain source for my own ideas. They just seemed to start coming in my early twenties and I learned to keep a voice recorder next to the bed just in case a dream did happen, I would be able to record the information before it had dissipated. But I’ve only had a few ideas for paintings, mostly musical stuff.
For myself, these vivid dreams usually come during times of extreme mental or physical stress. In fact most of my ideas come as a result of extreme stress… . Gorgeous painting; I particularly like the landscape on this painting. Ideal.
If I recall, THE WAVE also came to you in a dream. The wave and the Secret Service both banging at your door, bursting in on your home. You’re the only one who can understand the associations to the beef stroganoff and the waiting president. I like the weight of the water here, dammed up in the background, pressing down on the figure. Your perspective virtually tilts the entire canvas forward, top over bottom. Hell, maybe both paintings originated with a wish to sleep a little longer with a very full bladder. Nonetheless, you’ve got another magnificent painting here!
LOL i didn’t quite understand all of that. Was it really for reagen? And where does the stroganoff come in?! Hey I’m still working on my tempera. The white layer is getting much. Better but my glazing is terrible – so streaky looking. The tanspare ts are so lean they seem to need some solvent instead of medium. Any suggestions?
“Maroger” meduim – black oil and mastic. OMG…I started reading up on it. Now I am so confused and disorientated. LOL Sometimes I wonder if I will ever get to the painting part. It takes so much time to learn about these things. Suppose I missed the time to study w/ a master. Shay said the Maroger makes the neo megilp look like crap. Thought I was headed in the right direction with the megilp. My french painter friend demands the only REAL glaze medium is a recipe he sent over with damar varnish, turp and stand oil. Don’t want to go use the damar. I think I’ll try some stand oil, megilp and turp today. (if I ever can get off the dang computer ;-)