Thursday, December 05, 2013

Painting Collaboration

I was busy for about three weeks working on this backdrop for the Festival of the Nativity. Judey Hartzell is the one who was asked to do it, but she usually does watercolors, so she asked me if I would help her out. We ended up setting up in our living room (with the great light) and worked on it together.

I've never tried collaborating to this extent. It's hard! Of course our styles are pretty different to begin with. And dealing with something like this, that's so intuitive and visual, it's hard to articulate what you're picturing in a way that conveys the image accurately. Just finding the right vocabulary was hard sometimes. (When you use the word "brighter," are you talking about value or intensity?) Definitely an exercise in patience and communication. But we got through it, and managed to enjoy the experience. (Or most of it, anyway!)

We got the composition all planned out ahead of time, but there were a few details that Judey wanted to confirm before committing them to paint. We hit on the idea of sketching them out in chalk. It worked great! We went through a few different versions of this branch--just draw it on and wipe it off, till you've got something you like!

Here's the finished product (with Kate's box fort in the way). Those big stairs gave me fits--I must have gone over them three or four times, trying to get a good value and color. I was working until about 10:00 pm on the night before our deadline. Managed to feed my family, but barely.  Long day!

We got a picture outside when Judey and her husband came to transport the painting to the church. All done! Judey did the tree, the top branch, the big fern, the bushy greenery on the right side, and some of the shading on the other foreground greenery and the ground.  The mountain is from a picture of Machu Picchu and everything else is just kind of made up... it's supposed to be just a generic Mesoamerican setting. (The buildings are probably wildly inaccurate--I made those up too.) 

You may be wondering what a Mesoamerican backdrop has to do with the Festival of the Nativity.  It's an LDS thing--for the festival there's a room set up with artwork about the life of Christ, and this year they wanted to include this at the end, to represent our belief that he visited the people on this continent after his resurrection. 

We're glad to have it finished!

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