September 6, 2010

New Painting-A portrait of Eugene O'Neill


This portrait is of Eugene O'Neill and is my newest painting. It was initially conceived to be part of a group of paintings about New London that will be on exhibition in March 2011. Currently it is part of a tribute to O'Neill on the Drunken Boat website (issue 12) called "Celtic Twilight" www.drunkenboat.com/db12/.  I took several images as the painting progressed and wanted to include them as well as the finished painting.
Here is the statement used for the website and explains my intent for this image.

In this Portrait of Eugene O'Neill, I wanted to convey the idea of duality. In theatre, this duality is symbolized by the Comedy/Tragedy masks of ancient Greece, and in choosing O'Neill, one the nation's most beloved writers and himself a symbol of theatre, this idea of duality now becomes in part, a reinterpretation of those masks. The image of two opposing emotions transposed one atop the other generates a sense of discomfort and uncertainty in the viewer and in many ways will challenge people's preconceived notions of that symbol, our own duality, and how we want to imagine Eugene O'Neill to be. (The smile, by the way, is his own.) Continue to see the painting develop.
In few images I wanted to show how the painting developed. My process for starting any painting is to get the canvas covered with general statements of color and detail as quickly as possible. I prefer to work in stages so that I may develop the image from these generalities to more specifics. This allows me to gauge the painting as a whole and then make adjustments as needed. In some cases I may rework the painting several times, for example, the background color was chosen first as a bright orange/pink, knowing that I would eventually apply an opposite color to generate energy by this contrast. The Face was painted in many sessions building up texture and pushing the saturation of the possible skin tones. This being a black and white image to begin with, I am free to interpret color as needed. I believe that successful skin tones need to be full of temperature shifts that range from greens and blues to yellows, pinks and oranges. This is all set off by careful selections of desaturated color or chromatic grays.  To generate a sense of chromatic harmony, all fore ground colors are developed by including some of the background color in the mixture. 


The middle stage looks like I have O'Neill held hostage. I had yet to apply the smile and needed the space to remain untouched so the two images would be painted slightly different.
About 60% done. The jacket color was still a little too yellow and seemed discordant with the background
The final stage. Image taken by Rob Dowling one of the editors and contributors to Drunken Boat. 


Here I am putting the final touches on the eyes.  These details are to make the eyes seem moist which adds a human element.

2 comments:

Robert M. (English) said...

http://newpagesblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/franz-wright-and-eugene-oneill-on.html

Hanging out with the Riley's said...

Michael
I would first off like to say "Wonderful". Not that it may mean much coming from a Idaho Farm girl. But I am a fan for sure! Second I am so pleased to see you give me the best birthday present ...posting your art work more! Sept 6th is ma Bday and you posted! Lv you Uncle.