Our friend Suzanne invited us to spend a long weekend at her house in East Hampton and we packed up our swimtogs and the iPad. We rode a crowded bus the length of Long Island and Jenny and I were forced sit a couple of rows apart.
I used the ride as an opportunity to draw her from life, trying to capture the light on her hair. I used eight layers with different settings to capture the effect of the light — hard light, soft light, multiply, overlay and various degrees of opacity. The colors aren’t bright and cartoony like my earlier paintings but have a softness and glow that suggests the afternoon sun.
The next morning as we tucked into our breakfast, I decided to tackle the reflections on the pool, the light on the bushes, and the giant inflatable swan that drifted across the water. This painting has 16 layers to capture the hard reflections on the railing, and the diffused focus of the bushes beyond the fence. I also conjured up Hockney again as I studied the glittering highlights and the varying shadows on the bottom of the pool.
Suzanne’s dog, Lou, is a lovely and manic creatures, endlessly chasing after balls and circumnavigating the pool. I wanted to draw her as a thank you gift for Suzanne but it was impossible to slow her down enough to sit for me. So I snapped a picture with the iPad camera, then split the screen so I could look at the photo side by side with my Procreate canvas. I don’t love drawing from photos — but it was the only way to do a decent job of it.
I only used seven layers this time to achieve the layered look of the many colors of her fur and the soft flagstones beneath her.This scary beetle landed on my book. I drew his shape as quickly as I could be before he crawled away, then added textures from memory. I quite like the wood grain.
On our final morning, as we waited to head back to New York, I quickly drew Jenny again, this tie in a fast, more abstract style with bright colors. I wanted to break away from the painstaking duplication of reality and the endless layers and tricks.
I wanted to see if I could figure out the technical components to make paintings look fairly realistic — but that is not my Holy Grail. Instead, I want to play with all the tools until they become like second nature, and then express myself as I feel at the moment. I want to use the iPad like I use my sketchbooks, to capture the world around me and the world inside me, my moods, my quirks, my points of view. Reproducing photos is like painting-by-numbers. It’s possible but it’s not the point.
(To be continued)