It’s always exciting starting up on a new painting, though this is not the painting I was expecting to start. My plan was to do the intimate portrait of Humphry Marshall in his study, but storms and various other problems got in the way of access to David Culp. An internationally known plantsman and good friend, David has been the consistent and highly appropriate model for Humphry Marshall. With no time for setbacks I took this opportunity to do a completely different painting. Though it still includes Humphry, his back will be to the viewer, meaning I won’t need David to model.
It’s still in the early drawing phase, but I’ve already done some major rethinking about the composition. As you can see below the figure of Humphry takes up the left side of the canvas, and would give the image a ‘bracketed’ aesthetic, rather like my recently finished “Downing’s Town”. However, I’ve decided to shrink him by more than half; which will give the work an entirely different feel. By rethinking the relationship of the figure to the expansive scene before him more attention will be drawn out into the landscape, helped along by a centrally located river now barely defined. Unlike in the previous painting “Downing’s Town” that has an audaciously placed fence post in the exact center of the image, this river will go the opposite direction and sweep away from the viewer and disappear into the distance. Naturally, I don’t expect anyone to grasp this yet; after all, in this blog I’m only posting a few scribbles. In the weeks ahead you will see the transformation of these few marks on a surface into a colorful and atmospheric depiction of 18th century Pennsylvania as a breathtaking wilderness!