Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Paintings Redux: Version Two

 Between genealogy research and conferences I’ve been finding some time to work on paintings for my London show.  As you’ll recall, I’ve taken several paintings that I’ve done on board and repainted them on canvas for easier shipping.  It has been an interesting experience to take a painting that I considered done and begin anew.  I’ve always thought that I didn’t have the patience for repeated versions of the same image.  I can't read the same book twice or see the same movie. While Monet’s multiple waterlilies, haystacks and cathedral windows are inspiring, I thought I needed something new to sustain my energies.  Now with a reason to do that exploration, I’ve had a few discoveries worth learning. I've found that there are many levels within an image to explore.

It is very difficult to take a serviceable painting and paint out portions to rework them.  There is always the fear of destroying what already exists and yet it is the paintings I destroy that give birth to my favorite paintings..  Still a blank canvas is a second chance to take what I liked and emphasize it while eliminating what I was less satisfied with.  Sometimes I found it impossible to recreate some effects.  Instead I could let go of what I had done and do something new and unique.  Often that second effort has qualities lacking in the first.

The challenge that hung over my head was to take my painting “Gedenken” which is24” X 72” and recreate it in two paintings of 24” X36”.  I further added to the challenge by deciding I wanted the paintings to be able to stand on their own as well as combine into one image.There were two changes I wanted to make from my original “Gedenken”.  I wanted to create a larger base of darker color at the bottom to balance it and I wanted to put bands of sideways letters between each band that spelled “gedenken”.  Here’s what I arrived at, both separately and together.

 The other painting that I’ve been working on is “What is Left”. This was a very simple painting of the doors of the Torah ark that remained from the synagogue from 1438.  The synagogue was damaged in the war and destroyed by the Soviets after the war.  As I studied the image of the doors more thoroughly, I discovered some details that I omitted in the original.  The lock to the doors is inserted into a star of David, now captured in version two. What looks simple is deceptively difficult.  The doors are of hammered metal and create dappled areas of light and shadow.  The hammered forms and the variations of light presented some challenges to capture.This is definitely an image that needs to be viewed at a distance to see the elements come together. 
You can find the original paintings on my art website under Lithuanian Artwork on the right.

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