Sunday, March 13, 2016

From a Different Perspective

I have been continuing my exploration of the many ways to tell a story by painting the memories of strangers. I have asked people to submit a memory in the memory jar in my studio if they had shared it with someone who lost memory. At best I have a sentence or two from which to construct a painting and have no way to follow up with the submitter for additional story or context. I have always been one to create my own assignments, to force myself to move forward and learn new approaches. This forces me to use my imagination to create something from very little. It's a visual improv of sorts. I was always terrible at improv in high school debate so I am a little surprised that visual improv seems to be working for me.

I am gradually stretching my assignment. I started by painting the image as I imagined it. Then I decided to look at it from a different vantage point. For example I've shared the first image and the story in my post from In Search of Swans

A briefer version is that this was my starting point:

I remember when you took the long way through town in the dead of winter, and you stopped by the river, turned off the motor, rolled down the windows and we listened to the hundreds of trumpeter swans.

I liked the way she thought through each step, turning off the motor before rolling down the windows.  That progression gave the image more depth.  And it wasn't just one swan, it was hundreds.

That vivid image turned into this...

The image was clear in my mind, the car blending into the winter background as if all of a piece. Then I began to contemplate how else I could have approached it. It reminded me a bit of dream analysis where you are supposed to play the different parts of the dream. In this case I play the part of one of the trumpeter swans. I began to wonder if they were as interested in this car and its occupants as the occupants were in the swans.

I started out picturing a swan poised at the end of the hood, wings outstretched, a bit of a hood ornament. Then I sat in a car and realized that you really can't see the hood anymore from the inside looking out. I refined my idea and posed the trumpeter swan looking through the windshield at the occupants inside. I added a hand to the steering wheel as a reminder that there were people inside looking out in stunned silence at the swan looking in. I then added the mirror in the middle blocking part of the swan's head so that you clearly know he's on the outside as opposed to the inside. I don't know if this is done yet, but I think enough is done to illustrate the intent. I continue to consider adding more swans, but am concerned that they might distract rather than add to the image.

I like this approach. It forces me to circle around the image and look at it from different vantage points and different eyes.  It is a far more playful way to approach a painting but I find that I like both approaches.

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