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The Story of "Trafalgar Pigeons"

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Trafalgar Pigeons: Sketch


The difficulty of this painting is going to be the girl.

I can't figure out how tall she is or where she belongs. So I resorted to rendering a small image first, then a larger sketch. But I lost her in the second attempt.

The girl is probably what attracted me to the picture in the first place. She's so out of place with the rest of the people there.

A lot of pressure is on her - the success of the painting rests on her solely. If I get her right, then I have it.

In the comments from another post, Jody offered to show off her scrapbook of this photo. Having roughed it out, I think seeing the scrapbook would help.

As I write this post, my kids have just walked in the door from being with their mom up in Minneapolis for Christmas. Good to have them back...


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Tags: painting | watercolor
by Brett Rogers, 12/29/2004 12:00:00 AM

Knowing Concrete


I started the "painting" of the Trafalgar Pigeons today on my lunch break at work. I love the process of painting - it's very scary, but so very educational.

Today, I learned this: the only way to really get to know something is to not know it.

For example... what color is concrete? Gray, right?

I'm certain that the concrete stub at the right of the picture is the same substance as the pillar on the left. But notice the browns in the pillar and the blue and green in the stub.

Or look at the girl's clothes. Do you see the blue in her pink outfit?

Or that the pigeon on the box almost merges with the gray wash of the concrete wall?

In painting, these are not objects, but splashes of color. I can't paint it if I "know" that concrete is gray. The picture will tell me the truth. My job is to listen and make no assumptions.

It's exactly that way in relationships. A husband is smears of hue. A wife is subtle shades of coral and teal. A rainbow, really. We can't know them. If we do, we lose them - because we make assumptions and our innate laziness will forget to probe and explore. And then we don't know them any more.

I think it's a tragedy when a couple believes that they can finish one another's sentences. Good, if they're accurate. Nice to be known that way. But horrible if they're wrong. And I think in a lifetime of trying to finish another person's sentence, you lose them because they're no longer defining themselves. Someone else is.

Better if we just listen. New colors might pop up.

To paraphrase Joanie Mitchell, I guess I really don't know concrete at all. So instead I get to look at it in kid-like wonder. I'll post my progress on this as I go... here's stage 1 - laying down some basic washes and getting oriented.


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Tags: watercolor | painting | relationships
by Brett Rogers, 1/14/2005 12:00:00 AM

And the Paint Goes On...


As cornbread cooks in the oven, I managed to get a few more licks in on the painting.

I have no idea how to paint, really, but as I bumble along, things seem to be coming together. Like, how to paint a tree. I was pretty happy with my first trees in "Cub Running."

But I did a background wash and then just dabbed leaves on - kind of impressionistic style.

This time, I took the same approach, but then washed it over again with water, which provides a more complex background. I still plan to do the impressionistic-style leaves, but I think the result will be more realistic. Better.

The busses and cars have come along well. Next, setting the wash for the right side of the painting and then detailing the guys on the wall.

I have to admit that I'm a bit fearful of the girl. But then I was scared to start the painting at all.

Just smears of color... just smears of color...


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Tags: jacob | painting
by Brett Rogers, 1/16/2005 12:00:00 AM

About Halfway



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Tags: painting | watercolor
by Brett Rogers, 1/17/2005 12:00:00 AM

The Girl, and the Kids


Partially due to my back, which is slowly recovering, and partially due to a sense that I was not quite ready to paint her, I've held off from finishing my current painting. To the left is the girl, who I think is the key to getting this painting right.

It occurred to me yesterday that she might be a bit more interesting if I turned her head to look at the camera, so to speak. Would her look be curiosity? Disdain? Bliss?

So now to find some images to serve as the model for turning her head... and then hopefully I can finish the painting this weekend.

Other than my paintings, I don't write much about my personal life here. I'm divorced twice - my three kids from my first marriage live with me. The two sons from my second marriage live with Jackie and usually I see "the boys" several times a week. I have all 5 kids this weekend. Jackie recently got a new job with hospice, which requires her to be on call all weekend once or twice a month. So the boys stay with me while she is on call. Which requires me to have chocolate milk on hand - Jacob, my youngest, insists on chocolate milk.

I like painting while Jacob is here. I bought him an art set and sometimes, we paint or draw together. His brother, Austin, is more inclined to play NCAA Football on the XBox. Or to throw me the Nerf football throughout the day in the living room. When the weather is better, I like to go for walks with the kids. One or two will always tag along, usually Aaron (middle son) and almost always Jacob.

That's me with the older three. My daughter, who is now several years older than in the photo above, is off to college this fall. I asked her recently if she would have changed anything about how I've raised her. "Yes," she said. "You should have made me save more of my money."

Parenting is an odd balance of knowing when to micromanage and when to be hands-off. The struggle of independence and dependence... of Parenting and being a parent.

"Would you have learned anything, if I had?" I asked her. "You're quite stubborn."
"Probably not," she replied, "but I would have had more money."

Maybe I'll try to put a bit of my daughter into the girl in the painting.

ETC: Now that my daughter is awake for the day and has heard my idea about changing the girl, her response is: NO. "It's not real. Just paint her." She has a good sense about these things. "No one in the picture is looking at the camera. Like you're not there at all. Why should she look at the camera?"

Maybe I want to change the girl because I'm a chicken shit about painting her and getting her wrong.



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Tags: painting | watercolor | parenting
by Brett Rogers, 1/22/2005 12:00:00 AM

Closing in on the Girl



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Tags: painting | watercolor
by Brett Rogers, 1/23/2005 12:00:00 AM

Two Days Left...



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Tags: painting | watercolor
by Brett Rogers, 1/24/2005 12:00:00 AM

What 4 AM Does to a Person


I worked on the girl... now it's down to pigeons, a few people and objects, and then cleanup.



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Tags: painting | watercolor
by Brett Rogers, 1/25/2005 12:00:00 AM



I'm happy with this painting. I picked it because I knew it would be hard, and I wanted a challenge. Much thanks to Doug and Jody for a really great picture.

I learned quite a bit in doing this. What we think we know and what's really true are often two different things. We can look at something and the moment that we look away, it's no longer what's true, but only what's in our head.

Assumptions change our world more than we realize.

I learned to trust my hand and just paint. If you read this blog, you know that I was afraid to paint the girl. But she turned out fine. And the two kids near the wall turned out well.

I've also learned that my style is not necessarily like the style of others - which is fine. But in trying to reproduce the style of others, I lose everything that I can do right. How true is that in other things that we do in life?

For what it's worth, here's the progression of the painting:

I'll be starting my next painting tomorrow. And I've been working on the new web site... here's the main graphic for it:

ETC: I went to Kinko's, as I've had some folks indicate that they want a print of this painting. It cost me $1.89 for the color print on 11 X 17 paper. So I'm thinking... if it took me two weeks in a part-time effort to paint this, and people seem to like it, could I offer prints of it and other paintings I do online?


Read the whole story of "Trafalgar Pigeons"
Tags: painting | watercolor
by Brett Rogers, 1/29/2005 12:00:00 AM