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Peculiar Picture #31

November 1, 2013

Many of my new followers might not be aware of the fact that for many years I was a professional illustrator. While my work sold on five continents, I have a file cabinet of pictures that never sold. I use these images for a feature I call Peculiar Pictures. Many people don’t like discussing art for fear of being made to look foolish but that isn’t possible here. You can’t be expected to know what these pictures mean if the artist who created them doesn’t know.


Some artists have difficulty painting faces or hands or animals, but I was never happy with my backgrounds. If you held one of my early pictures up to the light, the dominant image had far less paint on it than the background, which I’d painted and repainted until the paint was as thick as toothpaste.


I solved my problem by switching from oils to quick-drying acrylics and painting the backgrounds first. In order to achieve a painterly look I used a palette knife to scour paint onto the surface, and when the pigment was partially dry I’d scrub it with a damp cloth to soften brush marks and achieve an atmospheric effect. The remainder of the picture was painted on top of the background. Eventually, these moody backgrounds became an integral part of my illustrations, creating a style sought out by enthusiastic art directors.




I love this picture although it has yet to find a home. Something interesting is going on but, for me, it isn’t easy to put into words. Maybe you have an idea about what’s going on?  




Painting sounds like a lot of work. It looked so easy on Bob Ross's show on PBS. I was trying to think of a meaning for the picture. The kite would represent America and then you have it tethered to Lincoln it seems like, so I guess something in that area.
By: PT Dilloway on November 1, 2013
Love the work, great piece, what a fanastic imagination, truly!
By: John on November 1, 2013
Will the winds of change unravel America?
By: David Walston on November 1, 2013
Lincoln is tied up in red tape? The person is a government employee recognizes how government has spun out of control... from day one.
By: Daniel LaFrance on November 1, 2013
Lincoln is the yarn that kept the union from flying away. Isn't that obvious? Why do you speak of your painting in the past tense? I hope you haven't retired your brushes.
By: Cranky on November 1, 2013
This painting is very ethereal. There is Lincoln, the great American idealist and '"The answer, my friend is blowin' in the wind, the answer is blowin' in the wind...
By: The Broad on November 1, 2013
all the freedoms and dreams lincoln had for this great nation are still just a dream...
By: TexWisGirl on November 1, 2013
The American flag being flown as a kite has not only decapitated Lincoln's monument but carried it all tangled up to rest on a hillside. They symbolism is strong. The winds of Patriotism if allowed to blow unheeded will eventually curtail all of our freedoms.
By: Michael Offutt on November 1, 2013
It's so hard to untangle history's meaning.
By: mimi on November 1, 2013
Perhaps it is the largest ball of twine in Illinois located outside of Springfield. Everything there has a Lincoln connection.
By: Cheryl P. on November 1, 2013
As you've probably learned, I never have any suggestions for you. I'm just too busy appreciating your wonderful illustrations. The background is gorgeous; I loved learning about your challenges before figuring your way through that!
By: Mitchell Is Moving on November 1, 2013
I have no idea of the meaning, but that doesn't stop me from finding it fascinating!!
By: fishducky on November 1, 2013
Lincoln bound by the secession of the Southern states? Bound as an idol in the U.S.? Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on November 1, 2013
stunning image...not sure if Lincoln was all wound up, or strung along by the fickle winds of fate? But the image is compelling and mysterious to me.
By: Kathe W. on November 1, 2013
Lincoln has finally had it. What with a sickly wife, slavery, a civil war, he's just completely unraveling.
By: Bouncin Barb on November 1, 2013
I'm drawing a blank on this one.
By: red on November 1, 2013's autumn. That must mean something. Our country is approaching its final days. This guy is a professional, a lawyer, perhaps, with a briefcase. Or else a blue-collar worker with a high metabolism, because that would be the biggest lunch box I've ever seen. There's a storm brewing. It's already over the horizon. Our country is being buffeted by special interests from both political parties, thus the red and blue kite tail. Or maybe it means the red republicans have yanked three knots in the blue democrats' tail. Lincoln's legacy is unraveling. Or maybe Lincoln just needs a Snickers, like in that Horseless Headsman commercial.
By: Val on November 1, 2013
I think I like David Walston's idea, seeing as I have none of my own!
By: on November 1, 2013
Such a deep piece- and so many different things it could represent. As always, really great work~
By: Shelly on November 1, 2013
I found this picture really difficult. Maybe we are trying to hijack Lincoln into an American he never envisioned. He is heavy and we are patriotic light?
By: Tabor on November 2, 2013
I'm fascinated by how many different ideas your readers have come up with. I'm thinking that the man standing there with the briefcase is a historian or teacher, looking at how he believes Lincoln's thoughts and actions kept the nation together as one.
By: Pixel Peeper on November 2, 2013
I agree with Cranky. I tried counting the stars on the blue background to see if it matches up with how many states were in the Union at the time. but, that would have been wayyyy picky.
By: Al Penwasser on November 2, 2013
I've always loved your backgrounds. I think it's fascinating you turned a weakness to a strength. I have no idea what's happening to Lincoln's head. It would make a bit more sense to me if it were Ben Franklin.
By: Lexa Cain on November 2, 2013

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