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Underway: Dipping Brushes into Paint

Goal-setting works for me; in the last three days I have completed two paintings, both Cuban-focused and each playing a part in the upcoming art show in May.

From my last visit to Havana, I set aside about 70 photos as my starting point. I took these photos with the idea that they would serve to get me going; while I gathered them I continually reviewed each one, resizing, reviewing, and discussing them with friends. No way I was going to make 70 paintings, but I wanted a large pool to start from.

Havana is made up, visually, of dozens of different artistic themes. I often, for example, look through doors and in alleys to find interesting shots. In trying to get underway, I decided to use one that I have thought about ever since I took it. Here it is.

The spiral shape, the jade green, and the blocks of muted color, all make this an engaging photo (for me). As soon as I took the photo, I could visualize what I would do with it. I decided to use this to make a more abstract form, mostly as a way to get my brushes moving and to start engaging with this project. While not entirely satisfied with the result, it had the effect I wanted. While working on it, I started to think about the next piece. My good friend looked at it when it was done and said that he thought that abstract wasn't a good focus for me. I agree. Still, I love the freedom that I see in abstract work - that of friends, that of well-known artists - and wish I could break through to the looseness that I see in their efforts. It might, however, not ever come to be.

My first possible piece for my upcoming representation demanded its place. My goal is to make 10 or more paintings, and bring 6 to the show. I would definitely like to sell them, but I have resigned myself to just enjoying doing the work and stacking up the canvases. The last morning in Havana, I took a great walk with friends, a long stroll at dawn along the Malecon, Havana's main coastal street. I took many many photos, trying to capture the light and the shapes. Because it was early in the day, the typical vibrant Havana colors were muted, but I thought I could still turn this to my advantage. I used the photo below, partly because it had an abstracted feeling in its various shapes, but also because it was a more direct, simple view of the city.

I definitely struggled with this painting - the colors are incredibly difficult to capture (I mean, is that yellow?). The lack of light flattens all the colors, and my tendency is to exaggerate color, so it was a challenge to make it work. Midway through the work I decided to focus less on accuracy and more on feel. In the end, the painting does capture the extremes of color and this fascinating edge of the city. I like how it came out, which I hope is what I am aiming for.

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