Gratitude. Being grateful assists me to be healthier and happier . . . especially during difficult times. I don’t remember my exact thoughts when this idea of gratitude came to mind, but I am cultivating a practice of jotting down my visual impressions when they come into my journals or along the edges of my engagement calendars – and this one became a doodle. Women working in a field. I spent a part of my youth on a farm. We grew wheat, hay, and barley. My mom had three gardens growing at the same time. I was not a diligent worker in the field. Rather, I liked to pause and daydream. Loved the sunsets and the wind through the wheat. This doodle kept cropping up (lol, no pun intended). It needed to be painted.
This is the “doodle” of the “gratitude” idea that came into my mind. I am a designer and it was a natural instinct to make sure I had an artistic number of women: five, an odd number. It is also a well used design concept to offset to one side the main point of interest. I kept thinking of – labor that bends your back, looking down versus looking up…
I began focusing on the individual parts. Using tracing paper I considered the poses of each woman. I am so “grateful” for the internet. Googling images of field workers around the world gave me an education in dress, baskets, and methods of harvesting.
Still using tracing paper and keeping the size small: 9 x 4 1/2 inches (so it is quicker to work with and easy to see an overview of the design) as well as keeping my pencils really sharpened, I assembled the parts. I use tracing paper so that I can, obviously, trace over bits and pieces of change rather than redraw everything from scratch each time. This helps me refine each shape.
Since I was making up these figures and creating my own light source, rather than using photographic reference…I needed to resolve some three-dimensional values. Where would the forms be darker/lighter, turn in space? I photo copied my tissue drawing and colored some of it as a guide when I started painting. This was a delicious exercise. It reminded me of the time spent coloring “in the lines” in a coloring book as a child. Very therapeutic.
Then, I wondered, what color scheme?! I fluctuated between vibrant, wildly bold color, and muted tones. Tried some color pencil rendering to assist me in making a decision. I struggled with this ping-ponging even into the painting. It seems obvious that a quiet moment would need quiet colors. But I love juicy colors and it took some real restraint to stay calm. Too much herbal concentrate, lol? My husband proved the deciding factor. He walked into the studio one day when I had painted swirling color around the standing figure and informed me that I had gone over the top and needed to scale back. He was absolutely right. When I muted the color, leaving the idea and design to speak for themselves, it was a much stronger image.
The final painting. It is 18 x 36 inches and oil on board. I believe I have opened a door to a series of similar paintings to satisfy those “strokes of ideas” that plague and bless my artistic life.
The painting is currently at the framers getting fitted for a debut at the Springville Spring Salon. I am definitely a bi-polar artist. I paint impressionistic realism as well as stylized concepts. This one falls in the stylized concept category and is signed DHMarsh.