See the one I’m working on today

Can you see the woman in the landscape?

Perhaps not yet. I discovered her in another painting several weeks ago. Since then I’ve noticed she’s in a LOT of my paintings!

Dorothy Fagan Studio
Blocking in a new painting

See the one I’m working on today

Inspired by the idea of an abstract woman in my landscapes, a new way of looking at the blank canvas engages me in the studio. More questions than answers, I am intrigued to discover who she really is!

The small painting on the left easel is my inspiration for the large canvas. I have already painted a Gold Ochre underpainting with oil paint. This gives the canvas some tooth to resist my brush strokes.

close up view
A close up view shows how I am marking out the main forms and shapes of my composition.

Sketching Her Out

Using full strength pigment oil paint, without any medium to thin it, I block in the forms and shapes to fill my canvas. This is where I put my body into the painting. Just the size of the canvas itself is approximately the same as my body. This canvas is 30″ wide and 40″ tall, about the size of an adult woman.

sketching her out
Can you see in the thumbnail sketches in my journal, how these simple shapes translate onto the large canvas?

In the journal she is 2″ tall. On the color study she grows to 14″ Then on the large painting she mushrooms to 40″ ~ a full grown woman.

There is a lot you can’t see about her in the sketchbook that blooms in vibrant color on the 14″ study. And there is a LOT more yet to be articulated in the full size painting.

This painting is part of my Awakening Hearts Series. She doesn’t have a name yet. Perhaps I’ll take suggestions as we go along painting her. Post your suggestions in the comments below.

 

Waking Dream ~ How I Discovered the Woman in the Mountain

Filling four pages in my journal, Squares, lines, a bird . . . an ancient bronze stick figure, then an abstract woman peeking her head over the mountain!

Trying to sketch a dream in my journal this morning, I filled four pages with scribbly boxes and abstract shapes.

sketchbook dreams

I’d never have considered painting such simple compositions. But my sketchbox trunk show had changed the rules. Now I can experiment.

Squares, lines, floating leaves, a bird . . . perhaps they could be designs for the backsides of pillows.

sketchbook dreams

an ancient bronze stick figure I’d seen in the Etruscan collection of the Vatican Museum.

sketchbook dreams

Then suddenly I saw it ~ an abstract woman peeking her head over the mountain!

sketchbook dreams

Three squares had clustered together in the valley and formed her heart.

sketchbook dreams

In the next box, she had arms. Outstretched mountains embracing the world.

Oh my! I wonder what else she can do?

sketchbook dreams

Emotion filled her shapes and i could feel her heart beating. I wonder if she can pray .. .

sketchbook dreams

I tried to sketch two hands clasped together. And then I saw her hip raised up out of the earth. Two hands praying . . . or a dancing woman with arms overhead.

sketchbook dreams

Without thinking I drew the reservoir, the mountain protecting it. And the sky rained stars down to fill it.

sketchbook dreams

The night sky filled with sparkly white stars on a deep Cobalt Blue field.

sketchbook dreams

Her heart joined forces clustering with those nearby. Head rising up, I could feel her strength growing.

sketchbook dreams

I wonder where this story is going? I see the paintings clearly. The colors, shapes, textures, the magic of painting them. I can’t wait to get started.

A Lily Pond of My Own | Painting Right in My Own Backyard

Right in my own backyard has double meaning in this series. Yes I have a pond outside my studio windows. Yet there is so much more here. And my pond doesn’t look like this!

Painting Right in My Own Backyard

In this story ‘my own backyard’ is inside me. I am painting these from within, NOT from any garden or pond that I have seen or painted. This is important. You may have read the beginning of this story last summer, when the first inkling came from a tiny watercolor I’d painted on my first day in France two years prior.

Water Lily Painting
A Lily Pond of My Own, oil

The unfinished paintings were clipped to a single board in the corner. Showing something else to a client, I moved a canvas exposing them to view. The one above was on top. Across the studio its colors coaxed me to stop what I was doing and listen.

I put her on the easel and sat in my chair across the room to hear what she had to say that was so urgent. An overwhelming urge for Ultramarine Blue in the shadow areas of the pond got me out of my chair. Mixing it up, I swung my brush rapidly at those places on the painting. More paint. More brush work. Sit back down.

Dorothy Fagan studio
The three canvases each took their own clip board, spreading out across the studio.

Color & Perception

In the photo you can see how I paint. The chair is on wheels back to the far right out of view ~ twenty feet from my easels. My palette is a large glass slab for mixing, a side table for tubes of paint, and a 7-drawer tabouret just below the cans of paint brushes.

Much of my color mixing is done by the viewers’ eye. Seen from across the room, you automatically blend color fields of paint. Seen up close, the paint is dry brushed like pastel over opposing colors. This creates a vibration in the way each color is perceived.

A Pond of My Own
A Pond of My Own, oil

A Lily Pond of My Own

Wanting to make everyone happy, to satisfy myself and keep the peace is a tall order. A bleeding heart I think they call it. An impossible role to fulfill sufficient to keep a person busy for a lifetime.

So. If peace is right in my own backyard and all I had to do was paint it how it feels to me ~ why oh why did it take me so long? And why do I feel like I can spend the rest of my life saying it over and over again?

I’ve always lived and painted in my own pond. Now I know enough not to mis-take everyone else’s as mine. Bleeding heart healed.