Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Another Lost Hour

Last week I finally finished and delivered a commission, a new and larger version of my painting Lost Hour from 1997. Here I am with a tiny brush adjusting one last edge--or possibly I am completely repainting, yet again, the red shoes.

I don't have a very good image of the original Lost Hour, only a jpeg of a scan of a faded slide. The request for a new version took me aback--how was I to recreate a painting from almost 15 years ago? How faithful a copy was wanted? Although I was able to find a few of the reference photos, they were only snapshots; the negatives and enlargements disappeared years ago. I no longer live in the trailer nor own the furniture, and the model (ahem) has changed a bit, too. And, finally, the biggest stumbling block I faced was emotional--I'm not the person who made that first painting. That painting was a challenge I set myself: To do a figurative painting--a genre painting even--to bring my love of Vermeer's work in some small way into my own life, to show my own life as if it were some 20th-century reflection of 17th-century Delft. Hubris, I know. But Lost Hour set me on the path I still follow (with, of course, some side trips and lots of directionless meanderings in the woods). Would any of that bravery and excitement remain now?

To find a place to start, as a change to my usual working process I first did a complete and to scale graphite drawing. As well as allowing me to work out perspective and composition issues (more or less), the drawing eased me into the mood of the piece. I could "build" true windows and a different bed, feel the light flowing into the room, bring in a chair and some different objects, and consider the psychological moment. It helped me to be there, to rediscover the feelings that prompted me to paint the first one, and to make this one its own painting, its own story and not simply a copy.

Here is the finished painting: Lost Hour 2, 18"H x 22"W, oil on linen. I cannot fully express my gratitude to Becky and Lloyd, for their enthusiasm for the picture, their faith in me, and their apparently limitless patience. I hope not to test it again.

1 comment:

Hardy Girl said...

So lovely! The red shoes are perfect.