A little over a decade ago I took a picture of a leaf encased in ice and snow. I played around with the picture in Photoshop and came up with what I thought was a real cool image. The leaf looked like it was glowing with its own light. I showed it to a friend who owned an art gallery. He got excited and said I needed to make a painting based on the photo. He said to make sure the male torso was clearly visible.
OK, so I messed around with sketches and came up with a torso. I made a few adjustments and started on the painting.
When I was about half done my friend came by and looked at the painting in horror.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“It’s the leaf you wanted me to paint,” I said. “See I even put in the torso.”
“No, no, no, no,” he said. “This is not the same thing at all. The photo was sensual, a little sexy and slightly erotic. This is, is, well, banal. Or worse. I see no reason for its existence.”
So that was the end. I put the painting away and haven’t looked at it since.
Today I found some sketches and thought about the incident for the first time in ages.
First I want to say that I’m straight. No matter how long I look at a male’s torso I don’t see sensual, sexy or erotic. I can see beauty in form, but sensual? No.
Next, to me the photo was cool because the leaf seemed to be glowing out of the blue ice. I hadn’t gotten to the point in the painting to make it glow.
Also, when I was designing the painting I wanted the torso to be something sensed rather than seen. Subliminal. I was also thinking about a dead, dried leaf in ice and wanted something a little sad, not sexy.
I just put a photo of a sketch into my computer and quickly colorized it. It’s not great, but might give you an idea of the painting I had in mind. If you don’t see the torso in the leaf, there’s a sketch of it in the lower right. The torso is seen from the back. The left arm is raised and the head is bowed onto his chest.
There are times when you must bow to the inevitable and stop a beloved project. You need to put your energy into something worth your effort. There are other times, though, that you should ignore the expert (he was an expert) and follow your idea to the end.
I’m thinking I may dig the old canvas out, brush the dust off, and finish the painting.
What do you think? This is a quick sketch and the colorizing job isn’t great, but do you see potential? Should I finish the painting?