I live in a very rural part of New York State surrounded by farms.
The landscape influences my work, but not always in the ways you might imagine. I pass this farm on a back road to the next town.
I have stopped a few times to photograph it. What I really love is how the corn crib looks in front of the silo.
Corn crib in front of silo.
It is a curved grid in front of a curved grid. In this photo it appears quite abstract. I love a subject, that is completely real and seems completely abstract.
In the final painting I kept the grid on the right and added a grid from an industrial garage door in New York City on the left.
Again it would not surprise me if you could not determine the source of the image.
It was the contrast of the flat grid and the curved grid that propelled me.
It challenges one’s perception on several levels. The first being that I painted a perfectly representational painting that is utterly abstract.
The flatness on one side and the barely perceptible curve on the other challenges one’s sense of space. Both of these things create a subtle disruption for the viewer.
“Silo”, 64 inches x 94 inches, oil on canvas, © Leslie Parke 2014, Private Collection, Houston.
Several years ago I decided that I wanted to do a set of lithographs based on a painting I did of an almond tree. Having never made a lithograph before I thought I’d share the process with you and get your input along the way.
I made 4-plate lithograph, that I printed in different colors to represent different times of the day.
Then I took the separations and scanned them and made a digital version of the lithograph. With 4-scans, I was able to make each scan a different color. Being the art history nerd that I am I used this as an opportunity to explore the palettes used in some of my favorite paintings by some of my favorite artists — Van Gogh, Gerhard Richter and William Nicholson.
My image coming out of the printer.
The digital print being turned back into a painting.
I then used the digital rendering to inspire new paintings on canvas. In this process, it became clear that I didn’t just want to change the palette, I wanted to change everything about how I applied the paiint. I poured paint, and dripped it, I flung it and scaped it. I used brushes, and squeegees, and rags, and paint sticks, palette knives and my fingers. I used oil paint, enamel paint, metallic paint and highway glass.
What remained was as abstract image that was based in nature and had a certain quality of light.
And even then, I was not quite finished, I also went back to some of the lithographs and painted on them to further enhance the image.
This project started in 2008 and it isn’t quite finished. When people ask me how long it takes me to do a painting, I assume they are asking how long it takes to apply the paint — not how long it takes to conceive an idea, nurture it, modify it, deconstruct it and reinvent it.
This process is essential to me. It is not repeating an image, it is studying, investigating, and dissecting an image. And until I have discovered everything I can, I keep working on it.
“Almond Tree Morning”, 60 inches x 70 inches, oil, enamel and metallic paint on canvas, © Leslie Parke 2015
“Tree in Twilight”, 67 inches x 96 inches, oil, enamel, metallic paint on canvas, © Leslie Parke 2015
“Almond Tree – Light Through Rain”, 72 inches x 96 inches, 4- parts, oil, enamel and metallic paint on canvas, © Leslie Parke 2017
But now something new is bubbling up. And again it is something I don’t quite know how to go about. So, I thought this would be a good time to share my journey with you. I have a vague idea where I want to go with the new work, but no idea how I am going to get there. If you have any ideas, feel free to chime in. The new project is called The Grid Project and I’ll explain it to you in my next post.