Monday, March 2, 2009

The Fox:

Oftentimes a second take on a painting can suffer from a lack of excitement. Perception winds up comparing rather than exploring the image, with lackluster results. For that reason, and another which I'll explain, I had some trepidation in accepting a commission for a new and smaller version of The Fox on the Town-O painting, made some years ago for the Ballads of the Barefoot Mind installation at 21C Museum. But because I love that ballad, and all the memories of my dad, fox hunting, and nights long ago when there were fewer roads, houses and fences, more foxes, quiet and moonlight mystery, I did accept the challenge, and here, 3/4 finished, is what I came up with. I like it better than the big one.



The other difficulty that I thought this painting would be hindered by was the change in scale. Scale determines everything that follows in my work, especially the size of the brush and how it is handled. The large version of Fox on the Town-O is 8' x 10', not counting the frame, this painting is 30" x 34". Much of the texture and illusion of substance in moonlight in the larger image was the result of using a very large brush, handled much as ink brushes are in oriental landscape painting. I was able to use the movement of my body and entire arm to make the rhythmic curves and strokes that form the hills and trees. I was afraid that the lines in the small piece might be "tight" and lack the lyric quality that the full body dance provided. But I did one important thing right ~ I didn't look at the earlier work at all.

I hope that the Canadian couple who commissioned it will like it as well as I do!

4 comments:

SBD said...

Agree...this is more intimate, quiet, like a night in the woods. If they don't want it. I DO!

Dan Dutton said...

It's for their 2 yr old son's bedroom ~ so I softened everything a bit. I kept thinking about making it so that it would be intriguing to look at every day - mysterious and far-away seeming - an image that childhood could hide in when it came time to grow up. The moonlight effect is more pronounced in this one too, and I like that.

Cathy said...

Lovely, dreamy, wild and exciting - this is wonderful!

I especially love the Van Gogh-ish sky.

Dan Dutton said...

There's a funny optical effect going on with the sky - if you are close to the painting you can see that the stars are spots where I've removed the blue background color by twisting the brush in a tight circle. There's a daub of darkish yellow that partly overlaps the erased spot - in some cases it isn't even ON the spot, but beside it. At a distance the daub and blank merge to make a pale yellow effect that gives a bit of shimmer. I think the eye sees the two dots and tries to converge them. Up close it just looks like the painter had gone wild & didn't hit the mark! Hmm...