I feel the best poses of women occur, when the painting’s subject is engaged in an unguarded and practical act. A simple gesture may be perceived as provocative by onlookers, but innocent and unconscious unto themselves. Whether combing hair, drumming fingers, adjusting a garment, it is the viewer who re-contextualizes her natural composure with her/his own emotional response, based on their own needs. The founding gesture of this picture; a woman lifting her skirt slightly to avoid entanglement with flowers, as the path she walks narrows. The result exposes her legs and the subsequent repore’ with sunflowers awakened by her passing.
The painting evolved in the coldest week of early 2016, in my basement studio in New York City, a work of memory and longing.
Memory: having spent six weeks in Tuscany several years before, sketching a fifteenth century Tuscan village built around an Etruscan ruin, Castigliocello d’Trinoro. The fields of Tuscany were awash in sunflowers at the time. They yielded a compelling tapestry of cadmium yellow and terra Verde’ that begins at ones feet and expands to the horizon. I was stilled by a prosaic awe of timeless beauty, returning every summer...
Longing: on a dark cold day of the winter, came this painting’s inception. I wished to return to incandescent Tuscany again. The painting would succeed or fail depending on the outcome of crafting a tricky comportment; a body walking directly toward the viewer. Profile is the most efficient way of portraying movement, a frontal elevation is risky. To be in the presence of this picture one becomes aware of her self-reflective facial expression, her mood is clearly internalized, a cautious gait, expresses protective regard for the flowers she grazes. On the other hand the flowers in the foreground, can hardly contain their excitement. They exhibit wild variation in personality, structure and hues of yellow. My intent was to inject animus into each flower. They express exaltation, surprise or reluctance to let her escape, their singular encounter with a beautiful woman.
The perceptual difference of being close-up to nature, a single flower, or far away, the vast background expanse, required gradual miniaturization of flower detail. The sunflowers are full scale near viewer, reduced through the middle ground and a fine micro pattern as the field reaches the horizon…. and unto the sky. In the foreground, the texture of the oil paint varies greatly from her smooth skin and garment compared to the rendering of each flower. Her creamy complexion is intended as contrast to the thick, sculpted pedals of yellow on each flower. Some pedals are built-up ½ inch thick of oil paint, those in the background very thin. The underbrush and leaves give a sense realistic negative space and an means for the yellow to be held down by earth tones. Each flower is poised at different angles to the woman, to one another and the viewer. I wanted to portray a separate spiritual life in each of them, a moment to express a unique reaction to her, via posturing. Her smooth skin and lovely pallor were achieved by painting skin tones first in grey values over a finely sanded ground of modeling paste and later in color. When applying color I detailed her skin tones as if applying make-up to ones face and finally eye lashes rendered with a single haired brush.