When I paint using photographs, it’s obviously important that the painting be a lot better than the photograph, and it’s always been pretty easy to do that. It was harder this time, because this new camera is so good and I set the composition up on PhotoShop, combining three or four photographs, picking out interesting shapes, making sure I had the wonderful age range represented that really is there.
I’ve talked to other cancer survivors, and we all seem to feel as if we got handed a Get Out Of Jail Free card with a clean lab report, which frees us until about a month before our next scheduled test. For me, this means that I’m free until about the middle of May, when a subteranean anxiety will start tunnelling upward, reaching full force between the test time and results.
When I moved to Bay City, Michigan, from Beaver Island, my artist friends all over Michigan sang, practically in chorus, “Bay CITY????” A friend who grew up around here and still lives here has frequently suggested “Bingo, Beer and Bowling” as the city slogan. That works, along with Bars, Boats, and Vehicles–American, please–this is car country. And I’m happy here. It’s friendly, tolerant, inexpensive, and just fun. We have a river AND a Great Lake (Lake Huron), and we are pleasantly lagging in “progress.”
I did the first layer in acrylic, but it was harsh and I didn’t like it. The light was good–lots of contrast–but it looked like paint-by-numbers, and although the composition was pretty good, the sky and bottom of the painting felt empty. I added clouds and moving water. Still boring. So I did a layer over the whole thing with pastels, and then, after some useful criticism from the subject, who is himself an artist, I did a final layer in oil pastel (kind of fancy name for expensive crayons). The result has depth and movement that I really like, and while I used a lot of bright color, the skin tones look perfect from across the room.
An artist friend whose opinion I respect suggests that the values are too similar. Another thinks the mermaid should have shells in her hair and more highlights. I originally painted the fish much brighter and think I’ll go back and repaint them, as bright fish were part of the joke.