At the end of December 2023, I completed the first painting in the series I’m creating for the upcoming Creative Pinellas Emerging Artist Exhibition. I documented that journey from initial concept through the completed work in a series of three blogs: “Beginning the Painting Process”, “Continuing the Painting Process” and “The Next Steps: The Painting Process”. It was a fun evolution, and in the end, I was quite proud of the finished product.
I’ve decided on the theme or “story line” for what will be a series of three finished paintings for the exhibition. Since I’m a New Yorker, born and raised, I have a tremendous affinity for that city and a good knowledge and understanding of what my hometown was and is currently. The title of my first painting states it in a nutshell: “The Decline of the Big Apple”. It’s a still life painting using metaphor of old, rusted cans, a knife and an apple to express what the title states. It’s very effective and impactful, and anyone who has ever lived or worked in New York gets the imagery instantly.
But now that the first painting is done, I found myself struggling to piece together what will be the second in the series of paintings. The concept of the second piece is to be based on the protests and riots that the city experienced a few years back with the resulting damage of many stores and buildings. I wanted to show the further decline, but utilizing different objects to represent the city, including the concept of arson. Heavy stuff. Talk about growing as an artist! It took multiple sketches, and several oil studies and still life attempts to come up with a combination that works! The final still life set up (shown above) has everything from old candlesticks and lanterns to candles and ceramics that look like they’ve been burned. And of course, the ever-present apple at the base of the painting to complete the communication. You can also see, in this sketch, that actual flames will be added in the final painting, which will be titled “The Big Apple is Burning”.
I titled this story/blog “Painting to Grow and Growing to Paint” because, it has been, thus far, an extraordinary challenge to create a series of paintings that actually tell a story, much like a series of books chronicle the growth of its characters. Most of my work, in the past, have been singular pieces. No two paintings have a similar theme, other than being another still life painting. This experience has been different and has challenged me to create art that communicates on a deeper level, one that uses metaphor, than ever before.
The second painting has already been started. I will photograph its development and present these and the finished work to you in my next blog.