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Protest Update

September 4, 2015








While I’m happy with the progress I’ve made, my second version of The Protest is taking longer than expected. I’d hoped to be done by September, but I still have a month left to go, maybe more.



Started here three months ago


I’ve worked extensively on the motorcycle cop and he’s mostly finished. The angry redheaded teen being hauled away by the two cops has gotten some attention, but the most time has gone to the kid playing the guitar. He caused me problems in the original painting. I’d wanted him to look like our son CJ, but at the time CJ was tired of posing for me and didn’t want to be included in my composition.


I must have painted, scraped and repainted that face a dozen times before being satisfied. This time the problem was changing the guitar player’s eyes to follow the flying paper airplane tossed by the little boy. I ended up using a toothpick, since even my tiniest brushes were too big. Several times I achieved the expression I wanted but the paint application was timid and uninteresting. The goal is to create imagery in a painterly manner, with bold brush strokes. Yet all the faces are so much smaller than the original that I’m having difficulty with tiny details, like the glint in the guitar player’s eyes. The solution is to apply these highlights with a toothpick.



The new version looks tiny next to the original




Current status of the unfinished second version



The face of the bag lady has been completed, but I still need to add the knit shawl over her and the kitten. This will reinforce her withdrawn expression, suggesting she’s in a physical as well as psychological prison.


The man in the rain slicker is mostly completed, and I spent hours working on the sleeve of the fellow in the Buffalo Bill jacket, the same with the man in the quilted green coat to his right. Quite a few hours went into getting that jacket right.


Now that other figures are coming into focus, I see that the flesh tones of my main character are off—too ruddy. I’ll need to tone him down a bit or else he’ll look sunburned.


After moving the paper airplane from the ground to the air, I felt I needed something to enliven the ground. I decided to paint a ball made from crumpled leaflets. I made a few crumpled balls from paper and photographed them on my desk, and Mrs. Chatterbox commented that it looked like I’d lost my mind. She’s probably right.



Practicing my crumple


I usually start painting in the morning at 8:30 and finish up around 2:00 p.m. when the sun comes over the house and the garage heats up. But today the weather has changed and there’s a chill in the air. It won’t be long before I’m painting in my coat. I hope I don’t end up painting in the snow.









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You painted THAT? It's just amazing. I knew you were a talented writer - didn't know you could paint as well. Seriously impressed.
By: Mike@A Bit About Britain on September 4, 2015
I'm happy to read you're making progress. Do you have guidelines on when to move forward as you paint or do you keep working "it" till you're satisfied? I suspect the notion is somewhat abstract and ambiguous.
By: Daniel LaFrance on September 4, 2015
I get it. The hours spent on something only you will notice.
By: Ellen Abbott on September 4, 2015
Your talent is amazing- thanks for showing us your progress! Cheers!
By: Kathe W. on September 4, 2015
Your extraordinary attention to details is what will set your work apart. Do you have a particular destination in mind for this painting? I mean, are you doing it on commission or out of inner drive? Either way, great job so far!
By: Susan Swiderski on September 4, 2015
It will be done in September - just the end, not the beginning. Really coming together. Like the touch of the crumpled paper.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on September 4, 2015
I've found the hardest thing in painting is to know when to stop!!
By: fishducky on September 4, 2015
practicing your crumple - laughed out loud. looking great!
By: TexWisGirl on September 4, 2015
Love your attention to detail. I couldn't do that even if I had the patience. Bob Ross could finish a painting before lunch time. I guess painting trees and streams is easier than faces and hands and stuff. Looking good so far!
By: cranky on September 4, 2015
Every bit of it fascinates me, as i could never even begin to understand how you do it.
By: mimi on September 4, 2015
Really nice, detailed work, and thank you for the info. I always wondered how artists get so detailed. Toothpicks? Who knew? Have a great weekend, Stephen.
By: Robyn Engel on September 4, 2015
Had no idea just what all went into a painting or the artist's process. Your characters are like those in a book that must appear the way you wish them in relation to the other characters. That is quite a story you are telling. .
By: Akansas Patti on September 4, 2015
Your taking us behind the scenes of this painting is a marvelous thing. Just fascinating to see and hear your creative process.
By: Tom Cochrun on September 4, 2015
I learn so much about painting from the peeks you give us into your garage/studio!
By: Pixel Peeper on September 4, 2015
It's fascinating to get to see some of the process involved. What a huge undertaking!
By: jenny_o on September 4, 2015
It's not often an artist opens up and explains what they're trying to do and how they do it. Nice post.
By: red on September 4, 2015
Amazing. Pls. show us the final vesion when you're finished.
By: Tom Sightings on September 4, 2015
It sure is a dynamic painting, full of motion and conflict. Good luck and have a great weekend!
By: Lexa Cain on September 4, 2015
Well, I guess that will keep you out of trouble for another month. I can't even pick my teeth right with one of your eye highlighters. And you have me outcrumpled by a long shot.
By: Val on September 4, 2015
This is so good---you are really talented, my friend!
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on September 4, 2015
Seriously impressive. For the love of fat bassets, that is awesome. Looking forward to seeing the final version. Wow. Really like that painting a lot.
By: Mr. Shife on September 4, 2015
Stephen: What an amazing talent you are blessed with, along with your tremendous patience!
By: Michael Manning on September 5, 2015
This is such an interesting labor of one of those old European crowd paintings. I am enjoying your description of your methods and trials and erros. Makes me want to visit the outdoor painting festival in a few weeks.
By: Tabor on September 5, 2015
Looks so good, and being able to read your thoughts on your work are just great, really fascinating and you have so much patience.
By: John on September 5, 2015
Im in awe as usual when I look at your work. The details are fantastic.
By: Bouncin Barb on September 5, 2015
That's a remarkable piece of work. I have no talent with a brush.
By: Rick Watson on September 6, 2015
I still want to know if that's Jerry Garcia in the upper right corner.
By: Catalyst on September 6, 2015
The Jerry Garcia comment made me go back and look again! ;)
By: Michael Manning on September 13, 2015

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