Aquarius: Story of a Painting, Part 2

As an artist, I look to tell stories. In the story of Aquarius, I started by looking at forest scenes to see what stories they invoked. I found a photo that Joe del Tufo took that seemed like it would provide a good stage for a story. He already had a story he was telling in his piece, and I didn't want to duplicate that. I looked at a series of photos I had taken for my daughter's graduation and noticed a similar quality of light. I merged the two photos in Photoshop and removed the figures from Joe's photo. Much of my artistic process happens in Photoshop. It is where I "sketch". I didn't want this painting to be a literally about graduation, so I changed the mortarboard cap to a water vessel. Now the piece spoke to me of water and carrying emotions. I started to see the story emerge of "filling your vessel" during COVID. I wanted to express optimism but also drama, so I started playing with the color story until I found one that excited me. I also played with filters in Photoshop and other apps that I have on my phone. Once I had my sketch, I created a grid on top so that I use to guide my painting on the canvas. If you look at the canvas, you can see how I penciled in the grid intersections as well as major elements in the painting. My goal at this point is not to replicate the resource image exactly, but to use it as a guide and see what comes up as I play with my materials. The image is flat, so it doesn't take into account the textures of the paint. Also, I am open to the inspiration that the process itself brings. I usually start my paintings by blocking in some of the lighter areas (because I start with a black canvas) but in this instance, I didn't do that. Still you can see how I was interpreting the sketch document right from the start. As you can see, although I put a lot of care into planning my paintings, it is still a fluid process.