Thursday, May 22, 2008
"The Day After Tomorrow"
30"x 40" (triptych)
Mixed media on stretched canvas
Well, finally, after two plus years, and about three attempts, here is the finished commissioned piece that's tormented me since it's inception! It is, in a nutshell, a painting about war. One of the most difficult things about the piece, for me, was my own opinions about the war we are currently in. It makes me angry, and the anger seemed to really be getting in the way of the piece originally. I think that there is still anger in the finished piece, along with chaos and violence, but also I tried to instill a bit of hope.
There are nearly 700 names of fallen soldiers on the three canvases from the Afghanistan & Iraq wars. It took me an entire day to write the names on the piece. I remember I listened to Chopin, and was pretty depressed by the end of the day. The enormity of it starts to settle in when you do something like that. I will never pretend to know what it's like to be in war, to be faced with the decisions those brave men and women make on a daily basis, which is another problem I had with the piece. The client wanted a piece depicting what someone in war might be feeling, or experiencing. I've watched countless war films, the biography channel, and the incredible 7 part Ken Burns documentary, "The War". All of that, and still, I have no idea what it's like. None. Nor could I ever know, unless I actually experience it first hand. So that was a huge hurdle to get past.
The title was taken from a Tom Waits song of the same name. It's a song sung from a soldier's point of view as he writes a letter to his family back home. I listened to it countless times while I worked the painting and I think that helped me to focus a lot better rather than something so huge as WAR. I also listened to a lot of Chopin, Nine Inch Nails' "Ghosts" record, Peter Gabriel's "Passion" soundtrack, and other numerous things to set the mood.
I used gold leaf, screen, lots of texture, and lots of loosely woven gauze. I tell ya, it's been such a process with this piece that I honestly have no idea if it's any good, or if the client will like it. I sure as hell hope so.