|Sky City Ladders by J. Binford-Bell|
I travel with my camera looking for ideas for paintings. Or once, at least, that was the initial purpose for the Nikon. And then the photos started being an end in themselves. But sometimes there is that good picture or a series of good pictures that isn't quite what you had in mind because of the wrong lens, the wrong light, the wrong angle . . . the gutters.
You get home from vacation and edit your photos and think, in a painting I can do away with those gutters. Time passes and I still haven't done that. Then in a Santa Fe office I saw a painting of Sky City and the ladders to the Kivas, and was remind of the painting I never did. I pulled up all the pictures I had taken that day on top of Acoma Mesa. It was more than just gutters that made them wrong.
On my work table was a sketch book where I had put in a drawing of the Ring of Fire eclipse with just a diagonal horizon below. I had been toying with what was going with that sun/moon combo -- a raven picking out a star from its edge? A canyon scape with river? Monument Valley? A mission church?
Or a Spirit Ladder! Or maybe a combination of several. The mesa with the pueblo being my canyon scape. And sneak in the towers of the Acoma Mission for my hint at the monuments of the Canyonlands.
Thank heaven for erasers. And after I do my basic sketch on drawing paper I convert to sketch to tracing paper because I can make some major changes by moving that over the sketch and transferring elements to different places or adjust perspective. Tracing paper also erases easier. Elements of the ladder and the building and ground upon which it rests were altered numerous times to give them stability and perspective.
At about this time I knew the ladder was going to be the central element and would be outsized as it reached for the eclipse above the pueblo. It represented the native spiritual beliefs. In the background are the towers of the mission representing the religion thrust upon the people.
Now to place that detail into the whole. And put the pueblo on top of a mesa. I sketched in the sides of the butte and scribbled in a far horizon of the valley the sky city. Foreground was not quite right not that I could not create the drop with paint.
I like the idea but not quite the right size just yet and there needs to be more indication they are moving up a steep trail to the top. However too much foreground detail will take away from the focus of the painting.
|Sculpture at the Sky City Visitor's center|
I think they will be carrying pots on their heads. And I like the head scarf as opposed to the shawls. I have transferred the sketch to the canvas but it is still not too late to do these little alterations to my women on the path. This is one of the paintings I will chronicle in photos for a blog or two. Hopefully the painting will be as rewarding as the sketching.
These days it is so easy to skip drawing. There are scanners and enlargers. You can take your photos and with a photo editing program reduce them to just lines to trace and transfer without the gutter. Or you can have it printed on canvas for you and then paint over the top. Creating a whole new scene requires a more creative process.