R-nnnn-Argh, oil/canvas, 30×40″
I completed this painting last week after putting in some intensive work this summer. I completed the first stage in 2012 (monochrome underpainting), but had no time or will to consistently work on it the last four years.
I used a fairly painstaking method in the second and third stages: glazing and scumbling colors over the monochrome underpainting (like tinting a black and white photo). At times I put off painting because it seemed too daunting to finish, and I regretted trying something new (an old master technique applied to photo-collage subject matter) on such a large scale. I realize a few years back that it would have been a lot smarter for me to do this as portrait on a smaller canvas in partial homage to Jim Nutt’s latest series.
I abandoned R-nnnn-Argh for a year after finishing the background figures and landscapes. I felt exhausted just looking at it. The central man’s face seemed like an endless terrain when I first began to work on it, and I remember the tedium of painting waves and the folds in the fisherman’s shirt.
I recently began to work on it again, and to actually enjoy the process. The only thing that slowed down the final stages was the heat in my studio. In the summer, my air conditioner fails to keep the temperature under ninety degrees after 1 p.m., and I have to quit when I start to feel the symptoms of heat exhaustion.
If you’re trying to decipher the imagery, try reading Edgar Allen Poe’s, “The Man Who Was Used Up”.
Last night I pulled out another long term project: “Higgins Didn’t Make It”, a faux science fiction painting. I hope it won’t take me as long to finish this one, but I believe that I started it in 2013. Time to get it done.
Higgins Didn’t Make It