Lay His Head

Conversations take many forms:

  • The Seinfeld:  This is a conversation in which two people are talking to each other, but what each one is saying has nothing to do with what the other is saying.
  • The One-Sided Conversation: This is the one where you just stand there with your mouth halfway over, while the other person asks himself a series of questions and immediately answers each, one in rapid succession.
  • The Shakespeare:  A conversation in which the REAL meaning is known only to a third party, and not fully grasped by the people actually speaking.
  • The Spy vs. Spy:  It sounds like a normal discussion, but is really an elaborately coded exchange, so the REAL meaning is known only to the people actually speaking.  Also known as the Reverse Shakespeare.
  • The Creepy Twins:  No sentence in this conversation is ever completed because both speakers already know what the other is going to say half-way through.

But my favorite conversations are those between artists or musicians.  The back-and-forth takes place in their art more-so than in their words.

In looking for an apt song to accompany today’s painting, I landed on George Harrison’s “Lay His Head” which seemed appropriate for obvious reasons:

The lyrics “you know that sometimes a man / he has nowhere to lay his head” remind me of the lyrics to the Rolling Stones’ “Let It Bleed” which states: “she said my breasts they will always be open // so lay your weary head right on me.”

Let’s overlook the fact that is a conversation in reverse, since the Stones’ answer to the man’s pillow problem was written years earlier.

There are plenty of much better examples, so it’s a real shame that I chose this terrible one.  So like any good conversation; when things start to get awkward, it’s time to change the subject.

The Painting

This one was completed last month during a model session at the studio.  It started out using realistic coloring, which you can see in the green of the model stand.  For some reason, our model stand is covered in astro-turf.  At some point, the picture started to look boring: it was becoming just a collection of highlights and shadows, pieces of furniture and pieces of person.  There was no focal point, no interest, and nothing holding it all together.

Closer observation of the details was not the answer.  Instead, I pulled everything together with selectively-placed lines in punchy colors.  The idea is to draw the viewer’s eye from one part of the picture to the next, and establish hierarchies of interesting areas.

The face is one anchor.  We humans are drawn – almost against our will – to other people’s faces.  Nowhere is this more true than in pictures.  Faces are so powerful, it takes a tremendous effort to get the view to look anywhere else. Here, I try to de-emphasize the face somewhat by simplifying it, and using a relatively dull hue for the skin tone.

A hint of pinkish magenta leads away from the face, down the neck.  This connects with a reddish swath across the man’s back and underside.  A strong gash of crimson picks up this theme and lends some shape to the top of the extended leg.

A bit of a counter-current is present in the strong yellow swirl around the center of the composition.  Again, it shows up both as a wash and as an assertive line.

Triangles are great compositional structures for pictures.  Therefore, it helps to balance the man’s extremities with a third point of interest.  Toward the middle of the work is a clearly articulated foot.  The color doesn’t compete too much with the other areas of focus, but I’m rather proud of how a few lines a little color really convey the shape and dimensionality of it.

Join the Conversation

Returning to an earlier topic: a conversation with oneself is pretty boring.  Please leave comments, questions, extemporaneous poetry, etc. on this blog and keep the conversation going!  Till next time….

This entry was published on June 26, 2012 at 8:39 pm. It’s filed under Drawings, Figures, Humor, The Artistic Process, Watercolors and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “Lay His Head

  1. Anonymous on said:

    Stumbled across this way past its publication date, but loved it!

    In the context of the conversation, and with my fondness for all things “The Thinker,” while also not knowing diddly about art and color interaction (but I feel you), I saw this as exasperation at the lack of thoughtful and invigorating conversation.

    I want it on my wall!

    • Thank you for digging deep into my archives and your thoughtful words on this piece. I strive for a deliberate ambiguity in many of my works, allowing the viewer to invest it with his or her own thoughts and observations. I like your take on it.

      If you want it on your wall, it’s available for sale and shipping. Just let me know if you’re interested.

  2. The thing that pulls me into this painting isn’t it’s great sense of lightness and light drama with the color, but the structure of the body. So many watercolorest just let the phyical form go – it’s all water and color – all the elements are there in this painting – nice job.

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