Saturday, 15 February 2014

Mi Blog Es Tu Blog - Felicia Forte

I have met Felicia last year at the opening of the Women Painting Women Show in Alexandria, Va.
She immediately struck me for her sophisticated stylish look and her intelligent eyes . The same sophistication and complexity is present in her paintings and particularly in this mysterious and unexplained image.

Black Dog, 70"x62" oil on canvas

Who are you?
That's a damn good question! I've almost stopped trying to figure that out, but you have inspired me to provide a more literal answer.
I am 34 years old and a painter and instructor of painting living in San Francisco. I grew up in Los Angeles. My life is filled with wonderful peers who are also my friends, and I am inspired and challenged every day.

Why this one?
This painting represents a breakthrough for me. It took me the better part of a year to accept, and then complete it. I had to redefine the term "finish" for myself.

Something about it.
The conception, execution and completion of this painting was, unbeknownst to me, paralleling the end of my marriage.
The conception: Last year a painter friend came to our school to give a workshop. One night over dinner she told me the story of her marriage twenty years ago. The images she described seemed stark and sad to me, but also beautiful and rich, (perhaps colored by my own lonely union). I told her that I wanted to paint that story, and about a week later I received a package in the mail. She had given me her wedding dress, which you see in this painting. I wanted to find a way to naturally add this touching gift into my work. After two attempts that didn't quite feel like me, I had my friend and muse Meredith (of the "Meredith vs. The Hula-hoop" painting) come to my studio and put on the dress to pose for photos. Meredith and I spent hours traveling through the cold and dirty warehouse building that houses my studio, and shot hundreds of photos. The studio dog Cooper joined in and I was able to get this amazing image of Meredith in awkward motion as she moved through the studio of another painter here. The darkness of it intrigued me. It was very different from my usual subject matter at that time. Somehow Meredith added to this mood as well. She conveys a profound sadness under the surface of her sweet disposition, which comes through in the last painting that I did of her.
Execution: I was very excited to start this painting, as I painted I felt more freedom and verve than usual. It became apparent to me that it was something new and this scared me. I feel like there has been a certain amount of "proving how well I could paint" in my previous work. Somehow, I could tell that this painting wasn't going to be about that. Instead, I wanted to show less of what I perceived as skill, and more of my feelings and myself. It was a very vulnerable spot to find myself in. I felt like this girl in a room full of blank canvases that I was portraying, shadowed and not sure if she would follow the black dog. I

stopped painting it. I wrestled with the idea of making it more "realistic".
Completion: I turned this painting to the wall for months. While it sat there, my marriage ended, and my career got very busy. The feelings of being out of space and time that were created by this sea change in my personal life gave me the right combination of apathy and bravery to look at the painting and decide how to "finish" it. After months of avoiding it, I was able to put just two short days of finishing touches into it and I knew it was complete.

Technical notes:
I used some vigorous palette knifing for the first time ever in this painting, but only on the dog.

Where is it now:
It is in my studio, I am about to re-stretch it due to some saggy spots in the canvas. Once I have finished that, I will varnish and photograph it.

Basic palette:
For this painting, I used the Zorn Palette with a few additions. 
Cadmium Red
Yellow Ochre
Ivory Black

Titanium White
A purple that I mix from Alizarine Crimson or Permanent Rose and Ultramarine Blue ( a bit more blue than the other)
Ultramarine Blue on it's own
Burnt Sienna


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