In “The Raucous Group” I’m still exploring themes of human bodies in relation to space as in “Man with Drapes” and “Tuberculosis.” The figures find themselves in a somewhat neutral zone of abstraction, however in this piece their surroundings begin to take on a little more form.
While working on this painting I was trying to move away from these sort of amorphous, indefinite environments I was placing figures in. Realizing I was getting too comfortable with overworking the figures themselves and paying little attention to their physical “place in space,” I attempted to build the environment with as much intent and care as I constructed the figures. For me this was challenging – most of our structured human environments are rigid, geometrical, which doesn’t lend itself to the fluid energy-based stroke I was used to. I layered the interest in the background and foreground using a combination of color washes, “dredging” with charcoal and paint, and copious applications of medium with a palette knife.
“The Raucous Group” goes a ways towards my goal of developing a coherent and engaged space, but overall I think you can still see my reliance on the figures as centers of gravity in an abstracted, ethereal, and largely two-dimensional (ugh!) plane of color and light. I have plenty more work to do on this, I think. I keep hearing that nothing is ever really complete – everything can always be improved/changed. Just like knowledge, there is always something more you can know about something.
The title of this piece comes from our visits to northwestern Montana where my maternal grandparents own a cabin. We use the barn as a home base for all of our activities, and sometimes stay up late “partying” there, which has earned us the nickname – sometimes deserved – “the raucous group.” Grandma and Grandpa, if you ever read this, please know that while raucous, the group is also very respectful. :)
The figures in the image are standing in the entrance to the barn, with the bright summer light flowing in from the left side.