“Attaching a Scarlet Letter”
Watercolor, 22 x 22 inches
Another round!! Another shot at adding another image to a series!
In this case, the series is Men at Work. I have been playing around with this series for 7 or eight years . . . . .and not too many paintings in the series, yet. I say “Yet” because these images don’t come to me, nor do I come across suitable images from which to make paintings very often. One has to wait patiently and be diligent about assessing every happenstance of stumbling onto men at work. First, I desire to have interesting images . . . .not just a bunch of guys leaning on their shovels around a big hole in the ground (we see that often, don’t we?!!) 😉 What I mean is that I need to see action . . . . . and there needs to be some sort of background story along with the work. And those sort of images don’t show up very often. Linemen replacing broken utility poles is one such example. One can only imagine what might have caused the broken pole . . . . not to mention the incredible risk that the linemen encounter every day in their jobs. That is interesting.
Then there are the mundane, or seemingly so, stages on which the workmen act out their form of “theatre.” Here, in this image, is one example. People pass by guys like this all day long, glance at them, and move along, not paying heed to much other than ‘those guys in that cherry picker up there.’
To me, this little act of the theatre said so much that I found fascinating: the shadow, for one. The contrast of the white uniforms against the red letters . . . . .and the fact that we see such signs so often in our day that we don’t even realize that we see them . . . . .they are just part of an every day landscape!! Like, who spends time looking at and observing them? Really!! But put two guys up there fiddling with them? That is a different story!
So this piece goes in with the rest of the “Men At Work” series . . . . some painters, some linemen, some plasterers just about anything one can imagine. And there is much more to come . . . .but what? And when? I just have to remain alert and pay attention.
And, as I look at the image, I am forced to wonder about the strength of the composition. It appears to me that too much attention is given to the letters, while I want the viewer to be mesmerized by the workmen. I will consider cropping a good part of the left portion of the painting to cast more attention to the men in the basket.
Sometimes, us art people find the gold in places we would rather not find it. In my case, I always prefer to do the ‘discovering’ and subsequent photographing and/or sketching myself. But it doesn’t always work out that way. Such is the case with this image and the source of it. This image appeared in our local (Santa Cruz Sentinel) newspaper approximately 7 years ago . . . . at least I think it was that long ago . . . . . .I have held on to the image for that long waiting for public memory to dissipate. Also, two or three computers ago, I wrote to the gentleman who had taken the photo requesting his permission to use the photo in an artwork. He graciously and cheerfully gave his permission with the best of his good wishes and he did so in writing . . . .I fear, however, that the letter rests in the grave with the used up computer someplace.
As a point worth making here, for those painters out there who read this material, I STRONGLY advise getting permission when ever using any publicly displayed photos . . . .or even photos that you did not personally make yourself. I have seen some art careers destroyed by not doing so. Seriously, it could mean being publicly humiliated and perhaps being sued!! Get permission!!
Keep your brushes wet!