Study for Through the Looking Glass
Media: oil on paper
Location: 20*20 House Gallery
Hover/tap for Price $1,300 (framed)
14 x 10 inches (36 x 25 cm)
which became the larger painting,
Within You and Without You
I had been working on combining images that would create a space that nurtures you, like the feeling of curling up with a book in a window alcove. I was following Lévi-Strauss’s theory that our first perception of the outside world is from the crook of our mother’s arm… first of her nipple, and then of her arm, and her lips, and then something else beyond her arm… and so on. So that sets us up for looking for nooks or viewpoints that mirror that memory space, like the way a landscape artist will frame a view with a branch of leaves curving overhead, and its shadow below.
I was fascinated by the way two or three layered images - say an interior, the corresponding exterior and a third detail - could create through their new composition a virtual space, an implied space, with an implied narrative. And then, looking for something to give more life to a painting with a silhouette going down the stairs, I tried for the first time in a long while to put a face-forward figure in the painting. The silhouette is only cerebral, compared to a fully present person, and there are so many ways that you can lose that virtual, surreal sense if you add a figure in realist rendering, but I needed more, and it was for an open doorway facing the silhouette. I lucked out; the image I found was of a young girl glancing back and it talked to the silhouette in the foreground, implying perhaps the same woman in two stages of her life.
Then I tried to take it to the next step, and I did this painting with two doorways, or one for sure and the second one is the door that’s facing us with a mirror that shows the reflection of the woman who is just a slip of a shadow in the foreground… a silhouette of someone who’s gone. So, with the girl in the doorway, it’s three stages of a woman’s life.
The name of the larger version, in oil on canvas, changed to Within You and Without You, because, in fact, I painted it twice before I got it right, and I destroyed the first one. The margin for error in rendering this imagery is very slight, and I only got this one to come through because I kept putting it away and then coming back to it.