This painting is my first larger figure painting in the vein of what I used to do. It’s from a snapshot of my friend at her wedding. When I looked at the picture later it reminded me of one of my all-time favorite paintings, Betty, by Gerhard Richter. She came to the Art Institute when I worked there, and everyone in my office was smitten. I ran into her again when visiting the St. Louis Art Museum (I didn’t even know she in their collection).
The technical challenges for me with this painting were rendering textiles and beading, plus what to do with the background. I repainted the dress beading twice, and by then I knew how I needed to approach the pearl barrette--simpler.
The background was much more difficult to decide. At first I wanted it all black to create heavy contrast with the white dress and pale skin, but as I began that I spontaneously sketched in two figures facing the bride. They stayed there for a long time while I continued to work on the bride. Something about the figures wasn’t right, wasn’t giving me the dramatic effect I wanted. But I wanted them to work so badly because 1) They created a bit of narrative, which I never intend to include in my work, and 2) their sketchy rendering was a greater element of abstraction that I don’t do either. After much consultation with family, friends, and self, I went back to my original vision and am very happy with it.
The process of painting was extremely fulfilling with this painting, too. It took me a long time—about two months—because I tried different techniques and took a lot of time to look and think. Finally, I put down the brushes and said, “all done,” which was a problem for me in the past.
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