Preview- work on the easel is almost done…

Preview of the nearly completed painting.
Preview of the nearly completed painting.

This is a tricky part of any painting. Now is when I need to stop and decide if this painting is complete or if there are little things that will haunt the viewer (or me) so it becomes more about scrutiny than painting. I keep walking away and coming back to it because that’s when I see small errors here and there. It is fixing those that I consider fine tuning.

But let me take a step back and let you know the history of what you’re seeing so you can consider the work in context. This painting is what I refer to as a suggested commission. Translated, that means that I was asked to paint a piece with a list of criteria with the possibility of fulfilling the expectations and directives of the patron. I am not selling the original but publication rights. Unlike a flat-out commission where the patron and I enter into a contractual agreement and half of the agreed on fee is advanced to initiate the beginning of the project, I have painted what was suggested by the patron with mutual hope that they might pick it up. If it isn’t what they want they can just say no.

My directive for this painting from my patron included the following:
a camp scene…in daylight….prefer women…even include children – that would be good…. early 1800 might be good – we could use more regency time-frame.

My thinking process (and even articulating this becomes a work in process):
Camp in the remote sites of the northwest territories are energetic, transient towns (as are the re-enactments of those camps)  and they thrive on the aggregation of  people from vastly different cultures, ethnicities, and sensibilities. Nowhere is the seamless blending of cultures more evident than in the community of women. Fiercely determined and loyal, we share many bonds: of  burdens in both the communal and individual work; of roles as wives, mothers and business partners in these aggregated societies; and even of shared appreciation and empathy for our sisters with regard to everything from material culture to levels of gender respect or status. Occasionally, this undercurrent flows as a barely noticed society within a camp’s social network. However, in camps then and now, women assemble in small, comfortable groups to laugh, to share, to nurture and to build community, generation after generation.

3 thoughts on “Preview- work on the easel is almost done…

  1. I love your work, Kelly. I like the visual theme, and the setting is very appealing.
    The question that strikes me is the relationship among the figures. The elder woman in the foreground appears to be the object of everyone else’s attention, but she seems diminished in comparison to the others — even the children. The woman and child directly behind the elder take physical precedence in the frame, which conflicts with my interpretation of the overall view.
    Am I way off base here?


  2. Kelly, this is an amazing piece with many stories. I think you’ve done an excellent job in the aggregation of people, and I love the elder woman. My eye is drawn though to the woman behind the elder. She is stunning but she seems to dwarf all others in the picture in size and, where others seem to be focused on the elder, the woman behind appears detached from that theme. If the draw is intended to be the elder, then perhaps a tilt to this woman’s head and a slight gaze downward would bring her into the overall theme. If the elder is not the central focus, the “golden triangle” if you will, then perhaps having this woman look at her child? The setting (background) is exactly right – peaceful and serene, a protective place for this comfortable group of beautiful women.


  3. I too love the narrative, Kelly. I wouldn’t change anything about the Elder. It does seem that the rear right figure is very developed in contrast to the woman approaching from the left. Perhaps the left rear figure just needs a bit more dimension. (At the same time, varying levels of detail in the figures is important.) I too might shift the gaze of the right figure, unless your intent is that she is looking at a person approaching from the foreground. Overall, a lovely painting!


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