I had a dream many years ago that I had painted my house all crazy colors and I found myself on the roof finishing up the chimney. I know my house represents moods in my subconscious dreamland and the painted house was a joyful revel. I have always wanted to do a painting of that dream.
First I did a little color sketch to try to figure out what to include. I started with photos of my old house in Marietta. I also remembered some pictures I had taken of a storm passing by when I was in Guatemala years ago when the sky blackened up like a dark fist, it rained furiously, then the clouds parted and the sun emerged in dramatic rays. I found those photos and tried to see if I could bring the sunny house in Marietta and the rays of sunlight together. In my dream rays of light had been beaming down on me as I finished up the final painting touches on the chimney. A house needs a neighborhood so next I found a house I liked and added it.
One morning I was walking our dog Kumho around the neighborhood and the sun was just coming up and was raking across some spring hostas. They were glowing yellow-green with sunlight. I had to go back home and get the camera save the image. Those hostas then made their way to the front of my painting
The grass in the foreground was giving me fits, I couldn’t get it to look like it was laying flat. So I started taking a good look at grass as I walked Kumho. What did it look like up close? At a distance? Please take a look at the textures of flowers and individual grasses closer to the camera and observe that they visually blend together as the ground recedes.
I then decided to put in a ladder because how in the heck did I get up there without a ladder? And the thought of painting a ladder was really exciting. (boy do I have a boring life!) I had to get the right perspective on the ladder so it would look like it had a similar perspective as that of the house. You can’t be viewing the house from the right side and the ladder from straight on when painting realistically unless you don’t mind being called a Cubist or Surrealist! I also had to figure out if the ladder would cast a shadow on the house or the bushes below so I stuck a white sheet over our grill beneath the ladder to take a look at what a ladder shadow would look like.
I still thought something else up in the very front would make the plane of grass come towards the viewer more successfully. I decided on including some paint cans. I went to Home Depot and actually bought those colors.
The house next door needed some color and some roses in the neighborhood were gorgeous – they got added. I still needed something for the flower box out front. I went to Pikes and took pictures of lots of plants but decided that just the white ones would work because of so much going on in the painting already. I went to Pikes a few times – the employees looked at me askance but let me continue photographing. White caladiums.
The trees behind the house just looked like big green candy cotton so I began to look at the shapes of trees up against the sky. I loved the pines. I want to paint a garden or forest next to paint more pine trees. They have strong individual personalities. The trees then got repainted as particular trees.
The sky wasn’t working, it had areas that were dark purplish. I greyed it down. I started looking at the sky after a storm and observing the fluffy, wet storm clouds against the newly cleaned bright, clear blue sky. Wow!
The sky still looked weird. I had my painter friends Jim and Jeane come over and Jeane immediately saw what I could not – the sun rays needed to pierce through the blue of the sky. I had never noticed sun rays behaved like that before. That’s whats so exciting about painting from life, you get to really observe what life looks like. And the next day I saw rays of sunlight coming down through the trees in our backyard, they came all the way down to the ground, they don’t stop until they are interrupted by a solid form. Blue clear sky is not a solid form.
I decided to bag my sky. I found this picture on the web of a beautiful sky with sun rays and simply sanded off the old sky and put in the new. I had to flip it around. What a lot of work because the trees had to be repainted in front of the new sky. I also felt I needed to be wearing white so here I am in white. White is angelic and would stand out against the sky.
So then it looked OK to me. It was then a matter of getting a good photo of it. The photos may still be too dark but the painting is big and heavy; I made the stretcher and it weighs a ton; it is like a sail with the least bit of wind. So right now I’m satisfied with these photos. Now to frame it.