Tunnel Vision

I've been working on a diptych (i before y I have to remind myself) but had decided before I started to get one close to completion before beginning number 2. This may have been a mistake.

The photo source shows one Afghan soldier, clean cut and with a small smile, while the second soldier has a beard and a sheepish expression. I knew that the clean cut guy was going to be less interesting, but that was fine because the project is partially about boredom. The trick is to make an image whose subject is boring but whose painted content has some sort of passive dynamic.

Close to completion, I moved onto number 2, but a funny thing happened. After 2 sessions and still far from completion, I realized it was almost done. There's nothing really earth-shattering there as paintings reveal themselves as much as they are constructed. Having tunnel vision for some dangerous belief in how you're gonna conclude a painting is always a bad strategy.

There's a part of me that just wants to toss out the almost finished but boring painting and keep only the unexpected and arresting image. If I was just painting for painting's sake: Doing portraits and figures within the broad scope of depicting the human form or even the narrower scope of depicting The Canadian Contribution to the ISAF mission, that'd be fine. However, I have a structured project that requires me to work with "Twins" and so I need both guys, side by side.

No decision has been made yet, but the thing I really wanted to say is it's great to have these unexpected moments that require me to make decisions, play with the tension between the project and the painting and think about how much I'm willing to let the paintings reveal themselves versus how much I want to dictate to them.

In a couple of sentences I'll insert the images but feel compelled to clarify that I'm somewhat embarrassed by the journeyman quality of the "finished" piece. That's balanced out by the awesomeness of the unexpected "Portrait of Satan"*. Maybe I'll start over... maybe in the end I'll have to, but maybe I can come to a place where I balance the currently unresolved tension between these twins. Maybe they both need to be weird in their own ways and when in doubt I'll usually go weird. What the ways will be is the sort of mystery that keeps me slogging away as a painter.

*That title is purely off-hand and is no way meant to imply anything about Afghans or Afghan soldiers.


  1. Hi Scott,
    As a new follower of your work/blog its nice
    to have your back ground thoughts
    on subjects projects and work pattern
    It helps me to feel what's going on more
    than just look, click and move on.

    Incredible detail.

    1. Hi Santastu,

      Thanks for writing. Funnily enough, I spent the day worrying unnecessarily. I'd put a new layer on most surfaces (before writing this post) so the dud painting ain't actually so bad.
      But what's being an artist without a little production-centric neurosis?