Friday, August 24, 2007

Vision-Black and White Movie

Black & White Movie
8.5" x 11"
Acrylic on Paper

I love old movies-really old movies! Even black and white movies. One time, I was watching an old movie in black and white, and my youngest grandson asked, "Grandma, when did the world change from black and white to color?" I still laugh when I think about that.

Of course, it is helpful for artists to do value studies in black and white, whether that is in oil paint, acrylics, charcoal, pencil, tempera, ink, or whatever the media of choice is. Maybe watching all those old movies has made it easier for me to do those studies using only neutrals.

In the painting above, I had been watching an old movie from my bed. I blinked and tried to clear up the image, but it didn't help. I had to walk over to the tv set to see what movie I was watching. I could see a woman in a triangular shaped dress, wide at the shoulders, silver, with spangles on it. There were a couple of men, dressed in dark clothing, in the scene. Other characters were sort of smeared into the picture, with some rectangular, tall shapes that I thought might be fence posts or buildings. What looked like some Art Deco art to me, was actually a western movie. Men were dressed in dark suits, a woman, perhaps a dance hall girl, was dressed in a silver, spangled dress. It was a western street with buildings in the back and a sign near the woman. Actually, this image was sharper than what I actually saw.

As I painted "Black & White Movie", I was very aware that, although I was trying to paint something that was distorted and blurred, my brain was insisting that I paint something more realistic. Something that showed characters and buildings while still concentrating on contrast, light and shadow, and shapes. It seemed like a battle between the left and right brain. I wanted to let that right brain work, but that left brain just had to have its say in what I was doing.

I was determined to show what I was seeing, so I kept working on different versions. I seemed to work backward, from a more detailed painting, then taking away and distoring in subsequent pictures. There are six of these, each a little different. The last one, shown above, is closer to what I was seeing.

I began to think that my characters were more like Art Deco people than people in a western movie. I thought of the movie and song "42nd Street" as the paintings developed. Slick, greasey, black hair and tuxes for the men; slinky, clinging dresses and slick, waved hair for the ladies. A street scene that looks like a set for a dance number. I didn't want the painting to be about 42nd Street, so I decided to call it "Deco Street".

I actually like a lot of the old 20s, 30s, and 40s designs, including Art Deco, modern, and streamlined. I appreciate it more now, than I did when I was younger, and there were more of the original designs from that period still around.

I used only black, white, and silver acrlyic in this series of paintings. The metallic silver doesn't show up as well in the scans as they do in the original. Here, they are another gray tone. They are all on paper rather than canvas. I thought these little paintings might be studies for something larger on canvas, if they were successful as small pieces. And, too, I wanted to record the images I was seeing before I forgot them.

Deco Street

8.5" x 11"

Acrylic on Paper

I had a little trouble posting the past few days, but Blogger seems to be working again, and I figured out what I was doing wrong, as well. Whew! That was frustrating. But look for more work to come.

Check out my links to Artists and Authors and Interesting Sites. And please refer my blog and group to others who might be interested. I appreciate your comments and your interest.

Hope you enjoy these Art Deco paintings.

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