I've always thought it's important to revisit things. Feelings, subjects, themes etc. Especially when it comes to my creative process. The riches of a subject are rarely exhausted by one visit or experience. We as viewers/creators change as well, which guarantees a novel encounter with the other. We never really see the same thing twice. If what we see has a soul, then we never see it with our eyes. We see an ever changing body and presumably don't encounter a soul unchanged by it's own experience the second time around. If I see a mountain one minute it is changed the next instant. It has gained parts or lost them. In light of this, is there anything that ensures the continuity of such a mountain? Is there an essence to such things?
My most recent act of re-visitation was my drawing of DFW above, inspired by two classic works below. Velasquez executed the painting below on the left around 1650. It is of Pope Innocent X. Later, Francis Bacon, a 20th century painter, copied this master-work in his own grotesque and evocative style, seen below to the right. I learned about both of these works/artists in college. I became and remain an admirer of both and now find myself situated in an artistic lineage wherein the younger artist pays homage to the earlier by reinterpreting his work. That's what I've tried to do in my drawing. In creating this work, I honor both Bacon and Velasquez and keep my memory of David Foster Wallace alive.
After painting a small (6x12") version of this composition (see my earlier post) I decided to scale things up a bit. I chose to stay with the double-square format, so I could bring attention to both the Bison and field vegetation. I had a piece of plywood handy, which was about 2x4 feet, so I primed it and set to work. I used a combination of cadmium red light acrylic, mixed with clear acrylic gesso, to provide the ground, then began blocking in large areas of color (see time-lapse below).
The main difference between this and the earlier smaller bison, is the size of mark I used. On this scale I intentionally use larger brushwork, it just makes more sense in the context. In the same way, I used larger charcoal a while back to draw my large Tetons picture (seen here). The resulting larger Bison has a stronger presence, not just because of the increased size, but the increased color exploration I can do in that space. The smaller Bison painting was a study, because it forced me to look at the subject for a prolonged period of time and get acquainted with the colors and composition. When I painted this larger version I didn't really refer back to the smaller one. I re-examined the picture I was working from and tried to see more detail the second time around. The result was that I found more colors in the big painting. It's not necessarily a better painting, but it is different.
I framed this with a simple oak frame, mitered at the corners. The plywood I painted on is dimensionally stable and will not warp. On future panels, I'll use thinner plywood, maybe 1/4 thick to minimize weight, as plywood can get heavy and be an obstacle to hanging the picture. This work is currently at the Art House Cinema and Pub, in downtown Billings.
J0hn Hunter Speier
Recent work, and explorations of techniques, aesthetics and poetics.