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Romancing the Texture

November 12th, 2009

The two masks in my newest painting come from the gift shops of the Vegas Cirque du Soleil shows “KA” and “O”. The masks are so different from each other that I thought it would be fun to find a way to get them into a composition together. After coming up with my concept, I started prepping my canvas. I’d had so much fun with my last painting where I started with a heavily textured black gesso undercoat that I wanted to do it again – and I did.

While the prepped canvas was drying I headed into my office to do some work on the computer. A few minutes later, my daughter, Christina – age 11, came into the office and told me that she and her brother, Eric (15), had been looking at my designs for this painting and she thought it should be titled “Love at First Sight”. I had to smile at my baby girl’s romantic inclinations. Eric, of course, disagreed and wanted it to be titled something dark and ominous – but, who would expect anything different from a 15 year-old-boy? I told Christina I’d think about it, but would wait until I was painting it to decide what its title would be. Interestingly, my working title to that point had been “It Must Be Love”…maybe Dad is a romantic as well…

Once again, I chose to use my palette knife to paint the entire piece. With the pebbly texture of the undercoating I knew this would be quite a challenge, and I was not disappointed. Rendering the smooth surface of the mask on the lower left while keeping the integrity of the texturing of the whole piece was one of the most difficult challenges I have assigned myself since beginning my exploration with texture and knife painting. Those patterns in the faces of both the masks gave me fits I’m just now recovering from.

As I painted, I thought of Christina’s title quite a bit. I usually like a more abstract title that can have multiple meanings, so I thought of several other options, including things like “Love Her Madly” or “The End of Wisdom”. But, upon completing the painting last night and then looking at it with fresh eyes this morning I realized that Christina was right. It SHOULD be titled “Love At First Sight”. And, so it is…

Love at First Sight

Love At First Sight – 24″x18″ – Acrylic on canvas – Completed 11-11-09

©2009, Don Michael, Jr.

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13 Comments for 'Romancing the Texture'

  1. deborah Said:

    Out of the mouths of babes…. I love the way your family gets involved with your paintings. Are either of the kids shaping up to be artists themselves?

    I still fail to see how you execute these paintings only with a palette knife, especially with the textured undercoat. I hope I get to watch you at work someday!

  2. hallie Said:

    Painting the patterns while keeping that perspective is really an accomplishment. Another winner. Good title; maybe you can save “End of Wisdom” for another time.

  3. Don Michael, Jr. Said:

    Hi Deborah, All three of my children are very creative, but have not pursued visual art in any form, so far. It is fun to involve them in my creative process and I always enjoy their input.

    Hmmm, your idea of seeing me paint with a palette knife is something I’ll have to think about. Painting has always been such a private time for me, and I never thought others might be interested in watching.

  4. Don Michael, Jr. Said:

    Thanks, Hallie. I write down my title ideas as I go along and then save them all. I have a folder full of scraps of paper and post-it notes with titles I haven’t used yet. I really like “End of Wisdom” and anticipate using it some day. It comes from a quote by the French poet, Antoine Bret, “The first sign of love is the end of wisdom.”

    -Don

  5. Kathy Said:

    A perfect title! Your explanation is wonderful – as colorful as your paintings. I’m very impressed with how you managed texture on this piece. The “grittiness” it imparts to your work expands the meaning of “love at first sight” to “love ain’t perfect!” There are always bumps along the way; it’s messy business. I’m also fascinated by the strong directionality of the background, which supports the notion that there’s a strong attraction between the two. Imagine, if the diagonals in the background ran the other way, they could represent a barrier to that attraction. Another masterful painting!!

  6. Don Michael, Jr. Said:

    Thanks, Kathy. You connected with this piece exactly on the level I intended it. The reason I wasn’t sure about the title at first is that I was afraid people would end up missing the “messy business” part. Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful comments.

    -Don

  7. Kathleen Krucoff Said:

    Hi Don!

    Well look at what you’ve been painting!!! Awesome again…and using masks from two of my favorite Cirque shows too. Yes, Christina had it right from the beginning…after reading her thoughts on the title I felt it was right on. I can understand that you wanted to wait and see, as I find I do that too. Glad you went with this title and wonderful work. Truly a love story.

  8. Don Michael, Jr. Said:

    Well, Kathleen, I take it you’ve been to Vegas before… and you didn’t stop by and say hi?!? 🙂

    Thank you for the great comments. Christina was really proud when she found out how I titled it. Being an ornery Dad, I waited until she noticed it was finished and asked me what it’s name was. She absolutely beamed… and then beamed even more so after I told her what I wrote on the blog. Gotta’ love my baby girl…

    -Don

  9. Kathleen Krucoff Said:

    Yes Don, we’ve been to Vegas before, but that was before I knew you. The next time Dan & I come out there, we’d love to meet you and see some of your work in person too. 🙂

  10. Celeste Said:

    Hey Don…! great imagery here! I like everything about it. I read your bio and you and I share that art director/graphic design/advertising background. Ah–the stories we could tell. lol. I like the graphic influence in your work.

  11. Don Michael, Jr. Said:

    Thanks Celeste and welcome to my world. 🙂 I’ve always felt that my graphic work enhanced my fine art work and vice versa. Maybe some day we can swap some good horror stories. -Don

  12. Don’s Blog » Art for Healing Said:

    […] in my painting Love at First Sight, show below. (I wrote about the creation of this painting here.) When I dropped the painting off today it was met with much excitement – making me even […]

  13. Don’s Blog » More Schmeerings… Said:

    […] my blogger friends will recognize it as having appeared in a couple of other paintings recently – Love at First Sight and Sage. (It’s been fun to use three totally different color schemes to immortalize this […]

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