Reclining Figure Part 1
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The late Johnnie Lilidahl originally orchestrated this film for David in his first studio in Taos, New Mexico. This film is unusual because it is the only demonstration available of David painting a figure.
The video begins with shots of the property and studio, and slowly moves into his interior working environment. After a short prologue about what he will do in this demo, David begins with a gestural mass to indicate where he will position the figure on his canvas. After getting the placement, he takes care to get the symmetry of one of his favorite models, Karen.
By putting in the shadows and the darks, David establishes the design of the painting—the arrangement of darks and lights—that makes the abstraction he wants. He conveys the topography of the form, rather than copying what he thinks he’s seeing, which is a vital distinction: to paint the truth of reality instead of the appearance. He feels that you must be sensitive and considerate with each brushstroke from the beginning to the end of the painting because careless brushstrokes will never lead to sensitive ones.
David shows how paint quality is what gives a painting a transcendent quality. He also shows how most skin color is non-color rather than the more colorful complexion. In order to see the image as an abstract shape, David works on the painting upside down.
By the end of Part 1, he has put in a suggestion of the face and built up the light on the hips to give the movement of light he is wanting.