Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sculpture and Ritual

What is Art? Is it the object? Or is that an artifact?
Is Art really seeing and seeking relationships, and making them visible and meaningful to others?
Does Art = Connection?
"Shane at Sauvie's Island" by Patrick Gracewood ©2012
I feel like I've been operating in Shaman mode for the last couple of weeks since my friend's son's death. A painting seemed necessary for his memorial.

I'm not a painter, and a portrait needs to be right on. No time for excuses, just begin!
Luckily there was a 34" x 48" wooden frame and extra canvas in the studio.

Working from a blurry photo on the large portrait felt like a conjuring act, a dialog with the dead.
I'd known him from his early twenties. "Why, why, why this?" Alcohol drinks a man.
Early laying out of the painting.
Unlike clay, the paint moves over and past my drawing. Painting isn't about exactitude, it's about layering. Time was limited, so was my palette. Titanium white, paynes grey, umber, ocher, pthalo green, and sienna.

His mother came into the studio many times while I was painting. Sometimes it was too painful for her to stay, other times we'd just sit with tears and talk. One day I asked her to leave so I could concentrate.

Another day she gave valuable criticism, "His ears are too big! The hairline isn't right."
It's amazing that a blurry photo still has exactly the right information of just this person.
That was painful in a funny way as I tried to get my ego OUT of the picture and really see him.

Oh, and pay attention to brush strokes, how is the paint applied?
Painting is not easy. It just has to look that way.
The last brush strokes went on hours before people arrived. No time to get flowers, so I staged   studio plants, green and alive, around the easel, and hung clip lights from the rafters.

Next to a life time of photos, the painting gave focus to the room and the evening. The family gathered around the painting to remember and be photographed with their son, father, brother.....

Don't be afraid to offer your work in service to others. Art really is about making connections.

1 comment:

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Mike Turner said...

What a gift you gave the family, Patrick. And a gift to all of us to remember than art is about so much more than technique and's also about creating connections between our minds, souls and hearts.