Tuesday, September 05, 2006

THE SUN


THE SUN, from Forces Of Nature series. This is the latest image in the group, in fact the paint is still wet! This series is not for any book, but is part of an ongoing set of allegorical images I'm doing, using female figures to embody the forces of nature. This is the second attempt at The Sun, the first just didn't feel right. I found the sun to be a very challenging subject, perhaps because it is so important. The painting went through months of changes, sometimes looking to harsh or too warm or too religious, like those paintings in Mexican churches of the Virgin Mary. That wasn't what I wanted. Instead I envisioned a woman, young and powerful, radiant with energy and even sexuality. Yet there is a spiritual quality about the sun, too and I hope I conveyed some of that in this piece.
I set up problems for myself from the start with the lighting. Where was the light coming from? Behind her? To the side? From inside? Each question goes to the essence of what she is and I never really decided, so the light comes from behind her, as if she was bringing it to us, but also from the sides, as if it were wrapping around, in order to keep her from being just a silhouette.
Departing from my usual practice, I didn't use a model, but instead created a woman in Poser. I wasn't happy with the poser girl's face, so I borrowed a face from an earlier shoot, but changed it drastically, adding yards of golden hair and her gold accessories. Her gesture kept troubling me. Was she aggressive, like a warrior? Her gait and body posture sure looked that way.
I tried adding a spear or something to her hand, but it seemed distracting and too warlike. I don't think of the sun that way. In fact, I don't think of the sun in only one way, it is so important, so vast and life-giving, but can also kill with it's heat and intensity. I think this won't be the last version I do of The Sun. Wait 'till you see my rendition of The Moon, as a contrast! It's in the works now.
It's important to note the difficulties and the failures when talking about the process of art. Museums rarely show artists' failures, and they don't show up in books much, but believe me, they exist! The creative process is hard, messy and generally a fight between discouragement and perserverance. A typical project for me starts out with the excitement of potential. This could look cool, or maybe like that! It's all possible. Then my limitations begin to show. I get depressed. "What a lousy artist!", goes the voice in my head. Sometime, often, that voice wins and the image never gets finished, particularly in my personal work.
In Illustration, of course we don't have that luxury.We have to come up with something at least acceptable, if not better! What pressure! But this is also one of the great things about the job. We aren't allowed to give up, so somehow we find a way to get beyond the discouragement and then something begins to work.
My Grandpa told me back when I was just a kid, that the true test of whether a profession is a good choice for you is how much you love of it's drudgery! So much of what goes in to any work of art is like that. Just menial, hard work. Drudgery. But somehow it can be therapeutic, just to clean the brushes, or arrange the computer files. Inspiration comes along to those already working.

10 comments:

Rachel Vincent said...

I love it! Will you be posting the others? I love reading about the process you go through with each painting.

james Griffin said...

Hi Rachel! some of the others in this series were posted back in June. They can be seen in the Archives. here's a link: http://paintlayers.blogspot.com/2006_06_01_paintlayers_archive.html
Thanks for commenting and good luck with your new Mira release! What's the title?
JG

PC Cast said...

This is amazing James! I can't wait to see your rendition of the moon. Please tell me you're going to have these available as prints!

james Griffin said...

Hi PC, Thanks so much for the positive feedback! I am working on setting up giclee limited edition prints of this and selected other images. I can't make prints of yours due to copyright issues. You are full of great ideas!
JG

Kathy said...

The picture is stunning. But who is the author of this series?

james Griffin said...

Hi Kathy, This series is a personal project of mine, so there aren't any books or author to go with it. Thanks for your comment.

Kathy said...

Well it's wonderful. The picture is stunning. I also absolutely adore the covers you did for PC and can't wait to see what you do for her next.

Rachel Vincent said...

Thanks, James. I'm going to look at the archives now.

My first release is STRAY, coming out in June.

Rachel Vincent said...

I found them! The Storm and the Tide are my favorites, along with the Sun. Fantastic work! The storm one especially makes me want to write about her.

I sooooo wish I could paint. ;-(

james Griffin said...

Hey Rachel, Glad you liked them. I'm so grateful to you writers for creating stories for us illustrators to paint! I've tried writing stories and always get hung up in descriptions of things, - in effect, 'painting' with words! Good luck with Stray. What kind of storry is it? who's the publisher?
JG