This painting is based on a scene I saw in Hot Springs. Four little girls were running around the wall of the water fountain. They were screaming with delight as with arms out stretched they ran around like little airplanes. A woman, presumably their mother, made them stop and get down from the wall. They ran a little bit more and jumped off. I later thought if their grandfather had been "watching" them he would have let them fly. It became for me a story about little girls flying, having an imagination to do something often reserved for little boys, that is to fly. Parents tend to protect too much and crush this adventurous spirit being expressed here, grandparent become more tolerant, and perhaps encourage this spirit, at least this is how it is in my world.
Thus the initial story, little girls dressed in pink running around a fountain. Grandfather sitting nearby. He is letting them have their adventure and is having one of his own as he reads a book. The dog is a stray, no collar (she is not owned) and thus free; she offers a ball to grandfather, an invitation to play or perhaps they are already playing. Initially the dog is sitting, waiting patiently, the ball in front of her. At this point I haven't decided on the dog type.
I do a couple of pencil drawings and small paintings.
a. August 17 2006: On a two by four cotton canvas the initial drawing is made in pencil and charcoal. It is then drawn over with burnt sienna.
b. August 18, 2006: The canvas is given a wash of burnt sienna, orange and cadmium red light Additional washed are used to indicate the light which will be coming from the right.
c. August 20: Here I was getting in my first undercoating. This more or less sets the light and dark value areas, areas of lightness or darkness. The walkway around the fountain does not satisfy me. as the colors are added I start seeing areas with the drawing that I want to change. the height of the fountain, the perspective and the walkway on the left. That's John Falstaff on the right for whom this series of paintings is named. He'll get quite a bit of redrawing. BUT. The point here is not to make a photographic rendering, but to capture a mood.
d. Sept 2: Everything has been roughed in. A mother pushes a carriage in the background left. A contrast in dependency. A mother with a totally dependent baby, and the two girls expressing their freedom, if only for a few moments. To the right in the distance a man walks a dog on a leash. The imposed bond of ownership is contrasted with the unseen bond of friendship expressed in the play offered by the dog in the foreground. Yes, I really am thinking about these things as I work on a painting. It's not just a bunch of pushing paint around, "pick the right color, put it in the right place." one tree one street lamp removed, girls arm adjusted to get proper proportion.
e. Sept 4: I've been adding in details to the background buildings. The dog
is now standing and alert, ready for action. Looks like it will be a golden
retriever, light or dark? They are known for their friendliness.
Flags added to the street lamps, buildings on far right. potted flowers.
f. Sept 5: Retriever will not be light, as it attracts too much attention. Reddish seems best. It doesn't look right and after studying a number of retriever photos I realize the neckline and backline are not correct. A lot of work has been done in the trees and the grasses.
g. Sept 6: A lot of small corrections have been made. To the fountain wall,
h. Sept 8: The painting has been completed and signed, John Falstaff. It is another in my Falstaff series.
i. Sept 10: After sitting for a few days I notice a couple things I wanted to change. On the foreground tree I extended a branch over the second girl. I added light gray blue cement to the wall between the man and the tree, and I worked over the fountain to make it less solid appearing by adding wall color into it.