Sunday, February 26, 2012

More of life on the Madrid subway

Here are two more paintings from the Madrid subway series, accompanied by the photographs and, in the first case, the watercolor studies that preceded the final oil painting. I'll start with the candid photograph of a woman reading a book--a frequent activity on the subway. The anonymous subject didn't notice my intrusion with the camera, even though I used a flash:
I used the photograph to make two preliminary studies in watercolor. My purpose here was by no means to make beautiful, finished watercolors; they were merely a way to get acquainted with the subject, her posture, the complexities of her hands, the proportions of her head and, in the second, more spontaneous study, to begin to identify a palette.
In the first study (above), the emphasis was on realistic drawing and color. I drew in the contours of the figure with a 4B pencil and then added color.
The watercolor above reflects my search for an earthy palette for the figure, dominated by reds and browns. I did not use the pencil here, just straight watercolor--alla prima.
The resulting oil painting was also done alla prima (meaning no previous drawing with charcoal or other media on the canvas--just straight paint). I suppose my palette here doesn't reflect the second watercolor. As often happens in my paintings, it involves the use of complementary colors: red versus green, blue versus orange. As intense as the colors are, those complementary colors give the palette balance. My use of color shows the influence of German Expressionist painters who worked between the two World Wars: members of Die Brücke such as Karl Rottluff-Schmidt (, among others.

The last oil painting, which wasn't preceded by any studies--the simpler subject didn't seem to require them--was also done alla prima:
 The painting above was based on the figure seated on the right in the following photo: