Saturday, February 6, 2010

Meditations on the Holy Cross

Artist's name:

John Warren Oakes

Project name:

Meditations on the Holy Cross

Describe the proposed project:

This project will focus on Meditations on the Holy Cross and a series of paintings that result.

What is the subject matter?

The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

How will you insure quality?

I will research the historical depictions of the Crucifixion.
I will apply skills and knowledge of meditation.
I have read books and articles on the Shroud of Turin.
I have watched television programs related to the Shroud and the Crucifixion.
I will do over 150 studies in ArtRage, PaintPlus X2 and Photoshop prior to beginning the series.
From these I will select work to be done as small studies in charcoal, acrylic, watercolor, gouache, and encaustic.
I will use high quality materials to insure longevity of the works.
I will use my skill to the best of my ability, allowing sufficient time to do quality work.

How will you provide an intense concentration in this project?

(A concentration is a body of related works based on an individual's interest in a particular idea expressed visually. It focuses on a process of investigation, growth, and discovery. You should explore a personal, central interest as intensively as possible.)

This series will take several years. I plan to do a painting each week until I have a significant number of paintings. I am personally inspired to do this series. I know that as I do this series the initial investigation and studies will contribute to a more intuitional process as I establish a visual memory of the process. What must be rationally planned at first will, in time, become internalized and as the image becomes a part of my experience it will allow me to be more creative in altering the image. By meditating on the Crucifixion, I hope my relationship with the subject will grow and contribute to the effect this image has on the viewer.

Explain the breadth of this project? (Breadth refers to your experiences and accomplishments in a variety of art forms and techniques.)

My life drawings and paintings of the figure and study of anatomy plus years of teaching art and looking at paintings will aid me in this work. I was in an Icon painting workshop in Santa Fe taught by Christopher Gosey in 2005. I have practiced using acrylics and oil paint for many years. Recently I added encaustic to my process. This breadth of experience and expertise will assist me. Investigations of the work of past masters of the Crucifixion, El Greco, Rouault, Picasso, Nolde, Chagall, Dali, Zurbaran, de Kooning’s figures, Bacon’s figures, and Luc Freymanc. One obvious challenge will be to include enough detail to suggest historical representations of the subject without losing the shroud-like mystery as the suggestion of the form is revealed.

Which did you use as resources?

Book (list) The Resurrection of the Shroud-New Scientific, Medical and Archeological Evidence by Mark Antonacci
Magazine (list)Mosaic Image of Jesus Christ / TIME Cover: August 15, 1988,
Internet (list web URLs) Google search for images of CROSS and CRUCIFIX

Museums: - Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC; Frist Museum, Nashville; Speed Museum, Louisville; Gardner Museum, Boston; Owensboro Museum
Galleries: Various Santa Fe, NM; Sedona, AZ; New York, Boston, Atlanta

What are the goals of the project?

My goal is to produce a painting a week for about two years until I have around 100 paintings. I intend for this series to grow through this process to gain in effective communication of the subject content. I hope that an contemporary approach to this historical subject will contribute to the devotion of the subject of the crucifixion of Christ.
I am interested in depicting the life energy that emanates from the dead body and the androgynous figure left on the cross. The challenge of painting a crucifixion that is not sentimental in the traditional sense but emotionally charged in a contemporary fashion interests me.

What are your objectives?

My objective is to select a body of work and exhibit these works in galleries and museums, especially institutions with a nominal relationship to the subject.
I hope to produce a book and prints of these images as well to be distributed in retail outlets and gift shops.

How do you plan to put together the formal elements (point, line, shape/form, value, space, color, texture), principles (balance, contrast, harmony, variety, emphasis, rhythm/movement/repetition, gradation, proportion and unity) and expressive elements where applicable (emotions, concepts, metaphors, etc.)?

I plan to include shape and forms that suggest the subject without detailing. I will use value and color contrast to emphasize the feeling of internal light emanating from the figure surrounded by ambiguous space and darkness. The personal brushstrokes will add texture by over-painting in scumbling fashion. Color will be triadically harmonized and limited to warm darks with yellows and orange tints chromatically making value shifts. Complimentary cool blues and violets will contrast the warmth and color.
Balance will be symmetrical with movement of forms emphasized. Figure elements will be repeated in various positions to create movement, rhythm and a repetition of form. Some gradation will reveal form. Proportion will be mannered and exaggerated. An expression of respect for the subject and the feeling of life of the spirit emanating after the death of the body will contribute to the emotional impact of the paintings.

List the techniques you will use and tell how you will synthesize the techniques employed? What materials will be used?

I will use charcoal, pastel, encaustic, water media, acrylic and oil paint to do the under-painting employing grisaille and glazing to establish the values. Brushwork will be personal strokes that accumulate to create the textured surface. Scumbling lighter tones upon darker tones will add texture. Dark values will go in first flatly painted and the lighter tints will be thickly applied. Additional glazing will unify the tones and values. Some pastel pigment will be rubbed into the surface and fixed with acrylic medium to haze and make transparent layers. Additional tonal shifts will result from wiping out areas while still wet.

How will content be expressed?

Content will be expressed by combining multiple visions of the crucifixion integrated with abstract forms and transparent layers to suggest rather than depict the event. The viewer will contribute memories of the historical subject upon this framework.

What cultural influences are in the project?

Devotion to the image of Christ crucified and the concept of life after death.

What art historical elements are evident?

Historical images of the crucifixion. Abstract expressionism and personal mark making. The use of light and dark contrasted to reveal light and energy.

What stylistic factors are present? Which style of art is this like? Which artists?

The style is lyrical abstraction and expressionism. An element of mannerism and surrealism is evident. Multiple layers and transparency of multiple exposure photography and multiple views of Cubism contributed.
Artists include:
Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola, Pontormo, El Greco, Rouault, Picasso, Nolde, Chagall, Dali, Zurbaran, de Kooning’s figures, Bacon’s figures, and Luc Freymanc‘s drawings.