Night of the Hunter, Part I
Last time, I left off in the middle of a hissy about Hunter's Lake, a development near my house that is
pretty well summed up by the fact that it's called Hunter's Lake. I'm sure you get what I mean. You can read what I
was all torn up about here, but there's really no need for that. Suffice it to say that one evening last week, I was
standing by the street, glaring self-righteously at the lights of Hunter's Lake, when I refocused and saw, suspended
over this monument to the downfall of architecture, The Hunter himself.
I realized I had a picture here. Orion has always been my favorite constellation, and for good reason -- it's
the only one I have ever been able to find. I ran inside and scratched down a few lines. Over the course of several jaunts
out to look again, then back in to sketch what I could remember, all the time using the above-pictured pencil stub
as a combination ruler, level, and sextant, I wound up with this:
Looking back at the sketch...well, at least I used the pencil for something, is about the best I can say.
But I got the composition down. Two nights later, I went back and made these more detailed drawings of the
utility poles, street lamps, signs and whatnot.
Most of this won't show up in the final image, but it helps to know as much as possible about what you're painting. I still
didn't get the layout of the street down, so I went back in daylight to make some perfunctory-at-best drawings for reference.
I'll show you this one, because it at least has some color. I call it Composition in Gray and Red:
The red spots on the right are blood. I don't mean they're supposed to represent blood. I mean they're real,
actual blood. I somehow managed to cut my thumb pulling a sketch diary from my pocket (this is a hereditary
talent; my father -- I kid you not -- once cut his hand fluffing a pillow). So there are the foreground elements, more
or less worked out. Next, I tried more pencil sketches to see if I could nail down Orion a tad more accurately.
Out of several attempts at drawing in the dark, here's one where I at least succeeded in hitting the paper.
Do you see a guy wielding a club? Does anything there make you think, well, if that were rotated ninety degrees,
it would look like a great hunter who was killed by another bunch of dots that bore no resemblance whatsoever
to a scorpion? Anything at all? I'm sorry, Ancients, but when it gets to the point that you're saying "That one
looks like...a bear...or maybe a dipper..." you're just making stuff up. I think we need all-new constellations,
ones that make sense when you look at them. Like for instance, here's a suggestion:
Now there's a constellation I can see. Well, be that as it may, to get back to what we were talking about, my
next step was to apply a dozen or so coats of watered-down gesso to a 20x24 piece of Masonite. After it was
good and dry, I covered the panel with thin washes of acrylic, covering up the white and indicating roughly the cool
and warm areas. This is a technique which the Impressionists, and later the Surrealists, referred to as "stalling."
Okay. There we are. The ground is prepared, and everything is ready to go.
Before I begin, though, one small color sketch, just for good measure.
"For good measure" being an unfortunate choice of phrase. Consider this: when you're painting a portrait at roughly
life-size, the misplacement of a feature by, say, a sixteenth of an inch can throw the whole thing off. I think it would
be fascinating to calculate by how many quintillions of miles these likenesses of Orion have missed the mark. Yeah, it's
pretty much inescapable -- I'm going to have to break down and refer to a photograph to check the positioning of the stars.
Which for me is a piece of cake. I never have any problem finding pictures of Orion; I got friends in the movie business.
Have a great Thanksgiving. Drop by next week, and we'll watch the painting do whatever it's going to do,
hopefully with a little say-so from me.
Next: Night of the Hunter, Part II
11.12.07: Hunter's Lake
11.05.07: Deconstructing October
09.17.07: Der Käfer
09.10.07: Straight Up
09.03.07: End of Summer
08.27.07: Knob Creek at Sunset
06.11.07: Forgetfulness and Blasphemy
05.21.07: Guerillas Indie Missed
05.07.07: Cat on Page 2D
04.30.07: Study for God's Linoleum
04.23.07: Pareidolia for Dummies
04.02.07: Regression Redux
03.12.07: She's Ready
02.26.07: Cold as Hell
02.12.07: The Three Faces of Suzanne
02.05.07: Progress, of a Sort
01.22.07: What I Painted
01.15.07: Art Lesson
01.08.07: Mountcastle Drive
12.24.06: Christmas Eve
12.11.06: By Way of Apology
12.04.06: Rodney Hits the Floor
11.27.06: Gondola Car and Busy Ball
11.20.06: Sketch for The Remains
11.13.06: Work in Progress: Lawn Deer
11.06.06: Two Studies for VW