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Jonathan Stone

Flying Too Close

Flying Too Close, 2010, oil, 24 x 36"

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Due to my training at the Art Students League of New York, color and composition are taken seriously in my work. This painting is a great example of that. Many artists are overly concerned with perfecting their figure that they can sometimes forget how important the rest of the stage is. believe the background is just as deserving of time and effort as the subject.

Similar to the energy that comes from painting live, I like for my work to be full of moxie meaning the viewer catches a feeling when they look at it. The powerful swagger of this model is captured by a vibrant color palate, which I was experimenting with at the time. Orange, green, and brown lend the painting an almost retro, 70s quality which makes sense because “Flying too Close” is a nod to my fondness for the New York School of painters. I have always tried to emulate their expressiveness in my work. Injecting it into my art is when I found my style.  

Though I paint from real life, an element of imagination is always important. I like that if you squint, you can barely tell the subject is a person. Instead, her body which almost blends into the background could be any kind of figure. It invites the viewer to use their imagination. What else could she be?

The big, bold brushstrokes are also my way of adding abstraction along with the line quality which adds some necessary drama. The subject has attributes of a dancer as demonstrated by the sway of her hips which may have come from the music I listened to at the time The turn of her head represents the bold, animated energy of this woman. She seems self-assured enough to do anything. 

Cropping is also critical to the composition. Similar to a photographer, I frame my figures in a rather dramatic way. Cutting off her head and the area right below the buttocks ensures the figure is center stage. In addition, placing her elbows right along the edges creates tension. You almost wonder if, despite her jubilant spirit, the walls are closing in on her. I think a lot about negative space in my paintings and this one has very little, purposely. 

Yet, despite the constraints of her environment the model is in a power pose which gives the entire composition a rush of energy. My goal was to show her life force. She had it in spades.