Monday, June 6, 2011

"Mount Rushmore" (oil on stretched linen, 28" x 32")

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"Mount Rushmore" is the most ambitious and largest oil painting I have ever painted.  A celebration piece, actually, on my becoming American citizen last month.  I even learned how to stretch canvas by watching my teacher Diane Tesler, who did the actual work.  With a teacher like that, one can go far indeed.  Thank you, Diane. 

I had done a miniature painting (6 x 8") of the same subject, which simply did not do justice to the grandeur of Mount Rushmore.  The sculptor Gutzon Borglum had an awe-inspiring vision to carve the likenesses of four great presidents into the mountain itself.  I had the photo of the usual view of this American icon, but chose this view for two reasons.  From this vantage point, one can see only George Washington and Abraham Lincoln--my two heros--fully; Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt can be just glimpsed.  And I wanted to be present a different picture not too many people have seen.

I added  a lot of sky, more than a quarter of the painting, which made the huge sculptures look way up and grand.  Although it is a close-up picture, I wanted the viewer to feel the air between her and the subject.  So I kept the values of the subject light (high-keyed) and introduced the blues of the sky into the rocks.  The V-shaped chasm was painted warmer than the rest of the painting as sort of a divider between Lincoln and the other three presidents.  Originally, he looked so deathly ill that I had to give him more life, so to speak.  I am proud of my endeavors and thankful to the great presidents who created and kept together this country.

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