Thursday, July 16, 2015

HAMLET and FRIENDS – A Triptych for the Kitchen (and A Tale of Second-Guessing)

"Hamlet and Friends -- Cow" (Acrylic Mixed Media), C. Eastwood © 2015

"Hamlet and Friends -- Duck"  (Acrylic Mixed Media),  C. Eastwood © 2015

"Hamlet and Friends -- Pig" (Acrylic Mixed Media, C. Eastwood © 2015
I offered to paint a picture for the kitchen wall for my son and daughter-in-law.  Their condo is done in a neutral palette and they’d been making some noise about kicking it up a bit. As an artist, it was obvious to me that the easiest way was to use art work to bring some serious color splashes into the area.  I’d seen a picture of a very colorful cow in a magazine and asked Jenn if she was interested in something like that.  Embracing the idea of an oddly colored cow, her marvelous sense of humor took flight, and suddenly the project became a tongue-in-cheek tribute to beef, poultry, and pork. 

I will admit to being a bit nonplussed by the idea of painting a triptych based on “cow, duck, and pig.”  But hey – why not!  They gave me total artistic control (woo-hoo!), and then it just snowballed out of control.  I  decided that it would be fun to surprise them and make it a mixed media grouping because I really wanted to give a nod to Jenn’s profession as an English teacher.  And how better than to collage pages from “Hamlet” into the paintings!  And from there it was a logical leap that the pig would be “Hamlet” and the others his friends. 

Of course, by the time I’d finished the cow, I was second- and third-guessing myself.  This was a seriously different style and I wasn’t sure that my brilliant idea was actually any good.  I had these horrifying visions of them smiling through gritted teeth every time they looked at these “weird” paintings, but living with them rather than hurting my feelings  That wouldn’t do, so I gave up my cloak of secrecy and showed them the first painting with the demand that they be honest.  I actually tried to convince them that I should do the paintings in a different style.  But no, they liked it.  Were they sure?  Absolutely.  So at that point, I showed them the collaged pages from “Hamlet” that would be visible under the heart on each painting, and they were thrilled. 

Okay….one duck and one pig coming up!

The biggest goal (and the largest challenge) was to move away from traditional colors.  That’s easier said than done—at least for me.  But it was freeing, once I got past the oddity of it all.  I wanted to be sure that each painting was slightly different in the colors, but that there was still a sense of unity and that they looked like they belonged together. 

So that is the story behind this triptych.  I’m glad they like them.  It definitely adds color.  Now we just have to explain to my grandson that cows and ducks and pigs don’t really look like that!