Monday, September 17, 2012

"Iwo Jima Memorial" (oil on linen; 11" x 14")

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A photo taken to aid the reworking of the painting

The monument viewed from the east

Have you ever been to the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, VA?  The Marine monument to many American soldiers who died during the terrible battle fought on Iwo Jima in 1945 during World War Two, never fails to touch my heart.  Last summer, a group of friends and I went there to paint this famous monument on location.  It was a noble endeavour, considering how complicated the sculpture was!  Because we set up our easels under trees facing the backlit memorial with the view of the DC skyline as the backdrop, we couldn't see the colors well.

I did my best, and after a few hours of hard work, I came home with the almost finished painting.  "Iwo Jima Memorial" was juried into the highly competitive Art League show in June 2011, which made my heart swell with pride.  Well, that was then.  After a year later, a potential customer discovered the painting on my website through the web search.  She came to my house to see it in person, looked at it, made some polite comments, and left.  The incident made me take a hard look at the painting. 

I wondered why there was so much red in it.  It was obviously due to the original orangy toned ground showing through.  As I said, I couldn't figure out the true colors of the base or sculpture while painting, which must have made me compromise in color decisions.  There was no photo to go with the plein-air painting, so last week, I went back to the site to walk around the monument to truly see the colors. 

As it turned out, the granite base had a lot of red in it.  Aha!  That's what pushed the painting toward the reds.  No matter.  In reworking "Iwo Jima Memorial," I decided to push the base toward blue violet.  I introduced more colors and deeper values to the sliver of the background, made the flag brighter, and above all, translated the shadows on the figures into violets.  The reds that still remained became lively, no longer deadening.  I believe the reworked painting is a big improvement on the original state.  What do think?

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