The development of When Heads Begin to Roll illustrates a few of the challenges I confront when I surrender to the needs of the emerging image. I find it painful to sacrifice the freshness and the initial energy of the underwashes and the linework. The subtle suggestions of form in the preliminary translucent layers of paint are extremely seductive and my desire is to allow them to remain suggestions rather than clarify them and risk rendering them motionless and lifeless. The first challenge was the disitinct separation between the left half and the right half of the painting. Each side had a completely different feeling of space and of the movement within that space. In resolving the sense of movement throughout the entire painting I lost some of the elements of the story that I had begun to unravel in my mind. As the painting developed further I took greater risks with the values and the delineation of forms. Looking back at the first stage, I see that there are a few shapes that I need to recreate in order to maintain the original direction of the painting. After having lost several of my favorite areas of transparent overlays, I decided to see how far I could push this painting with bold colors within a limited palette. Cadmium red is always difficult for me to work with. I love the dynamics that a bright red can add to a painting if used with moderation. Cadmium red, when mixed with other colors quickly becomes lifeless. To keep the color vibrant without diminishing the strength of the forms and their movement is my currrent challenge.

The small orb on the left side beneath the upper, red corner resolved a difficult area, a shape that was causing the painting to visually split horizontally, stopping the circular movement of the heads. This solution was a surprise to me after eight unsuccessful attempts to resolve this area. Every shape within a painting, regardless of its size, can significantly alter the entire composition, setting it in motion or causing it to be static.

Image: When Heads Begin to Roll – Oil on Kraft Paper – 36″ x 48″ (Stages 1, 2, 3 and the final resolution #4)

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