Distortion!!!

Monday, March 5, 2018 3:47 PM

It sounds like it should be easy to create a distorted figure, but I found it rather difficult to get myself to overcome years of work getting the proportions right! I started with a photo of a model that I had taken at a life painting session. The model was a nice looking, normally proportioned young woman sitting in a chair. I just drew and redrew her longer and longer until I got an elongated version of the figure that stretched diagonally across the whole canvas - distorting the chair along with the figure. The composition was not so great, though, so I decided to use one of my go-to strategies to balance the composition: add a dog.  In the Parlor, oil, 16 x 12"  Man and Dog I love putting dogs into paintings with people. There is always an implied relationship between the dog and the human. One of my artistic heroes for this kind of thing is Lucian Freud. Look up his "Double Portrait" and "Triple Portrait" for a couple of wonderful examples. 

The elongated figure suggests the formal, elite demeanor of a "high society" lady. When I decided that I needed a tall dog figure to accompany her, what came to mind was a Borzoi. Finding images of Borzois to work from is easy, you just google Borzoi and click on the "images" button. Thousands come up! I found an elegant seated pose as a reference. In the finished painting, the elegant figure and dog made me think of an old fashioned "parlor" like the one in my grandparents'' house. It was a room, closed off from the rest of the house by french doors. No one ever went into that room except to dust or to entertain very special guests. All my grandmother''s best furniture was in there! This lady and her dog would have fit right in. Like the paintings in my first two postings, this painting was done over an older painting and something in that painting suggested the shape of the window behind the figure''s head creating nice light passage contrasting with the black hair and dark hat. I tried an oversized vase of flowers but it seemed too literal and I ended up just making a simpler shape out of it with some fun palette knife work suggesting plant material. The yellow picked up the colors from the chair and her blouse. Somehow, I put in a triangle of bluish light coming in over the legs in the lower right. It helps to balance the composition and further set a mood. 


If you want to see some wonderfully distorted and fanciful figures, try Mel McCuddin. Here''s a link for that: Mel McCuddin