Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Evolution of a Painting

In April 2012 Beth and I moved from Hancock, NH. to a new home in neighboring Peterborough. Although only nine miles separate our old home from the new one the change was profound, a parallactic shift occurred in my visual perception. In other words new surroundings brought forth a new vision.
We had been growing and tending after a large Agapanthus plant for a number of years. The new house came with a walled garden ( and Kiki, the gardener). Since there was ample sunlight I placed the potted Agapanthus on the wall, grown over with Boston Ivy. There it flourished with over twenty blossoms.

It happens in an instant, the creative vision. It was early morning during a much too hot July. Fog had settled over the hillside, the sun was a hazy disk as hundreds of drops of water clung to the plant.

Quick! Get it on paper! Don't be fussy just capture the idea. It doesn't look like much but it is all there. It takes about two minutes to draw. Now, what are the dimensions (height & width)
it is about 4 to 5. 
32" x 40" perhaps....or maybe larger.

It just so happens that I am preparing for a major show in New York
 at Hirschl & Adler Modern.
As a courtesy, a representative from the gallery stopped by late in August to visit the studio. Although I had lost a lot of time in the process of moving I was now painting at full speed and paintings were all over the place, some underway, some canvas' blank,
 one being 40" x 50"........Hmmmmmm. I mentioned my idea to Tom and showed him the sketch, he looked at it, thought for a moment and then said,
 "James, paint what you want to paint."
I was chomping at the bit.


 Due to the fact that the colors were going to be primarily cool greens and greys, I wanted to lay down a base coat (ground) of warm Burnt Sienna. A few pencil lines went down to basically establish where the significant areas were and mind traveled to that lonely amazing island seven miles off the coast, Appledore.
Instead of the lawn and the trees of Peterborough, in the distance I painted Appledore in fog. I had done it before out there, so why not? So I set up my easel up in
front of the garden wall and painted like a madman. Six hours later it was all there.
Let it dry.


I should mention that I had only six weeks to complete three paintings....AH, no sweat!
Who needs sleep anyhow?
I start on the flowers because I don't know how long they will last. Individually they aren't much, small simple blue blossoms in a burst of stalks. They become blue explosions in the sky.
They are such a pain to paint.

I begin to paint the ivy, old and ragged it creeps over the mortared wall and climbs up the terra cotta pot. Who needs cloth? I have always been terrified of green, I have hardly any green tubes in my paintbox. It's time I face my stupid fears and dive in. What do you have to loose? Oh yeah, I am having a show at an important NY gallery and I have six weeks....
But who's counting.


I paint the fog, the sun is pure white. The more distant greens are cool, the closer greens warmer.
Cobalt Green
Sap Green
Cadmium Green

Soften the edges, it is blurry in the distance. The fog hovers, underneath things are clear. Sharpen those edges, more vines more leaves. I paint the terra cotta with the 
color Terra Rossa, the only red in the painting.

I need to make more value contrast. I slash pure Radiant White to create the ocean, even where it is not suppose to be. Who knew? White dew drips from the flowers.

No time for errors, I must finish this before it begins to turn on me and have "issues." 
Then I find myself looking at the painting on the other easel, White Calla Lilies against a crisp blue Umbrian sky.  Uh Oh!

Its the bottom of the ninth inning and I stop this painting.
7/8's complete.........why?

James, paint what you want to paint.

Agapanthus, Appledore
oil on canvas, 40"x50", 2013
James Aponovich

Done, signed, framed and shipped to Hirschl & Adler Modern!

This painting will be included in my upcoming show :
James Aponovich
An Abundant Life
Hirschl & Adler Modern 
The Crown Building
730 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY

all images and text copyright James Aponovich 2013
may only be used by permission of  the artist James Aponovich