Vision, Scale, and Detail


One of the magic things about painting is how just a few strokes of paint can create an image of something completely different like a figure or a face. In this particular work I will focus on the hand of Humphry Marshall. As you see below I have in no way made a detailed hand, just a few suggestive blobs of flesh tone.



Doing a hand like this is actually a particular choice that you have to make when doing a painting. If I choose to paint a complete hand with tiny distinct fingers and a solid outline, it actually wouldn’t read as a hand from far away. All of the details would merge together and create visual confusion, which is not something I wanted to do with a broad painting like this one.



The other interesting element of this new section of painting was the rock on which Humphry is standing. I didn’t have a particular plan when working on them, other than making some visually interesting rock formations, but I ended up unconsciously making Humphry’s position quite precarious. Examining my work I think that this instability makes an excellent visual metaphor for the character of Humphry Marshall, his vision was great but his footing unstable. He didn’t know if his ideas about the science of botany would find an audience or a purpose, he didn’t even know what kind of future America itself would have. Regardless of the risks he forged onward with his projects. This aspect of Humphry resonates strongly with me, and its easy for me to see how it ended up reflecting in what I painted.

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