Sunday, February 17, 2013

An Idyllic Scene

Ink and watercolor on 8" x 8" Daler-Rowney Langton Prestige NOT paper
I call this "An Idyllic Scene."  Is it?
What do you think?  (Feel free to enlarge the image by clicking on it.)


ARTIST'S THOUGHTS (Consider the picture.  Then and only then, read this):

I have an aversion to cliche' images, and  I was thinking about mortality and the swiftness of a life span when I drew and colored this.  So I included what I hoped would be unsettling elements:

1. There is a doll in the tree. If you look carefully, the doll's hair could also be read as a dark bird.

2. There is a discarded boy's toy as well, in the foreground. The wheel could be read as the tail of the squirrel. The squirrel is collecting a nut, an activity which is performed at the threshold of winter.

3. There is something watching the children from the tree on the right.

4. When I was done, I thought I spotted a ghost. Do you see it?  My most valuable critic thinks I am crazy on this one.  She is probably right.  So what else is new?


WHO IS RIGHT?  (Besides my wife)

So, what did you think when you studied the image?  Was there a scenario that came to mind?  Did that change when I told you what my ideas where?  Am I just nuts (like my wife says)?

I almost didn't tell you what my concept was - this was going to be a two line post.  But I think it is fun for you to know what I thought, and I'd love to know what you thought (if anything).  The picture is no longer mine when I publish it, it is yours.  So at this stage, your thoughts are more valid than mine.  Or are they?  Maybe in an idyllic world..

48 comments:

  1. Actually, and although the title says one thing, I immediately noticed the elements. Well, one to begin with (the discarded toy), and yes I see the ghost. This really is a brilliant painting, very clever Dan - love it :)

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    1. Thanks Ann! Brilliant, well. Clever - I'll take. Thanks!

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  2. It looks like the kids can't find their toys and the bird and squirrel are hiding them. Only one thing would make this perfect. A sling shot in the kids hand. So it appears as if the toy theft was a revenge plot. I like your field and trees it looks like a great place to read a book.

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    1. Hah! A suspense story! Coool.. I'm glad you like the field and trees. I'd love to read the book there too, if the ghost were to take a leave of absence. ;)

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  3. My first thought when I looked at it, is that this is a great illustration for a book as there are many things happening and to find (even a ghost, that to me looks like a little girl) and I was wondering what the story was behind it... The one thing I was wondering about was why and how the boy is standing looking away from the girl who's sitting down on the ground and she's looking in a different direction. Although everything around them is lovely, green and serene (love the how you drew and painted it all), yet something happen between the the pair of them, maybe he teased her took the doll and threw it up in the tree. Maybe out of puppy love, but now they'll pick it all up and life goes on, friends again. Really like how you put it all together, makes one think and imagination rolls free, great piece!!!!

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    1. I think you see the ghost I see, which was an accident by the way, because to me it looks like a little girl too. Since I was thinking of mortality and how childhood, and life, are fleeting I was pleased to spot the poor thing. And the way you describe it..a children's romance story, pupply love. Love it! Thanks.

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  4. Too profound for me Dan, just a great painting!

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    1. Phil, Phil - we can't just put paint to paper can we? :) Thanks!

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  5. Hi Dan,
    I'm still having problems with my laptop so I am viewing this on a small tablet. All the same, it looks great to me. There is a wonderful golden age of children's book illustration feel/look about this painting-something I love. Like phil, I'm not sure if it is a little too profound for me but I do know it's a marvelous painting.
    Stew
    stewcrowther.WordPress.com

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    1. My goal was definitely to make it look like a children's book illustration, so thanks Stew. As for profound, I was playing with symbols for fun - don't really think I am going to do it again. But glad you think it's marvelous!

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  6. I see lots of interesting shapes in this sketch but no ghost! Lovely whimsical sketch with a story.

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    1. Well don't feel bad - my wife didn't see it easy. Maybe it just wants to be seen by certain of us.. Whimsical-I like that! Thanks!

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  7. You're nuts. I see the doll, I see the squirrel, I see an owl in the tree, I do not see a ghost--unless it's in the tree trunk? Am I having a stupid day? I do know I like the child-like quality of this painting--and isn't that all that counts?

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    1. Sigh. Yes I know I'm nuts. But life is more interesting. I don't think you are having a stupid day; I'm being a bit silly. I think it's just below the little girl - flowers in the ghost's hair, she is holding flowers, and flowers for shoes with a yellow triangle for a dress. Yep, I'm nuts.

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  8. I immediately thought of my neice's daughter who loves to climb to the top of trees, the top of anything for that matter. So I thought the doll was she, taunting the other kids to climb up with her. I don't see the ghost but the squirrel and the owl I do see. I agree that it's a clever illustration for a children's book.

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  9. My first thought was those two have been chucking their toys about although it does have a spooky feel as if something is about to or has just happened. As for the ghost..well I can see several shapes that could be ghosts but I often see strange things in trees anyway.

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    1. Since kids chuck their toys about, that could definitely be. I am glad you think it's spooky. I like the dichotomy of innocence and spooky.

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  10. Oh I like the little darker elements in your idyllic scene! It's still has the "idyllic" feel, but with a bit of humor. It reminds me of things from my childhood. How often did we have used, broken and misplaced things hanging around our yard or play area. Life was rarely neat and orderly.

    I enjoyed this one, Dan!

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    1. Definitely tongue in cheek, for sure. I don't take myself too seriously..except when I do. I like your observation about childhood - and it is true - we adults often think of childhood as idyllic, but it is not orderly and can be downright scary.

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  11. I thought it was a crow in the tree with something bloody and that gave the image a slightly dark cast. Maybe we are both nuts!

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    1. Your thought is pretty darned close, I'd say. It's good to have company in the asylum.

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  12. Dan - I love the thought that went into this well-executed painting. My first thought was somewhat nostalgic. It reminded me of my childhood ventures into the scary and wonderful woodlands near home. These woods were just close enough to town that they also became a dumping grounds for old discarded items. Sometimes, those items were useful but usually they were just a stain on the natural landscape. And, we never knew who or what was lurking behind the trees. It really was our imaginations that dictated the emotions behind the experience of venturing into the woods. You've perfectly captured that for me in this painting.

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    1. I love your comment, Katharine. I remember when I was afraid to enter my bathroom when I was young because the shower curtain made a pattern like a scary robot. Kid's imaginations for good and ill are phenomenal. Thank you!

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  13. Hi Dan, at first sight I thought it was a very lovely children's book illustration. It probably did feel slightly darker once I knew what the objects were, but regardless of which way I look at it, I find it to be a lovely atmospheric painting.

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    1. Thank you. I'm pleased, because that was the effect I was after.

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  14. I love love love this Dan, it's delightful and moving and a great joy to behold - and my sister (the artist of the family) is visiting too and as soon as she saw it commented on its beauty. It's lovely, very simply - so no more words needed :)

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    1. Wow - three loves!! And a lovely! From you and your sister both! Thank you so much. :)

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  15. Wow, what a spooky painting - unsettling in a "good" (very interesting) way! I love the contrast between the superficial harmony (bright colors, lovely details and subjects - on the first glance!) and, on the other hand, what you see when you really *look*. I was all like "is it a crow or the dolls hair or a crow..." until I read your thoughts - it's both! Why not! :)
    To me it seems like a szene from a horror movie. The children get lost in an enchanted/haunted fairyland forest and the evil animal spirits are after them (they already got the cart and the doll!)... Wah, dude, I'll have to watch five episodes of My Little Pony to make up for this and find some sleep! xD

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    1. Ooh - you're scene gives me thrills! Go watch My Little Pony. Yes. But be careful of what may lurk in the background animation.. Thank you!

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  16. I agree with the last commentary, something of the opening scene of a horror movie. All seems pretty on the surface but something bad has happened here. I see the two people as the parents looking for their kids who haven't returned home. The "crow" in the tree is the scariest part and the overturned wagon is ominous. But I must tell you, one of my first thoughts was "why is that crow pecking at a huge crab?" Well, Dan does live in Florida, right?

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    1. Crabs in trees!!! Yes!! I love Florida! Thanks!

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  17. I'm not sure I would see anything sinister here without your commentary...(though I thought the bird was plucking at a human heart in the tree...did I think that before or after reading what you wrote? Now I don't know). It is fun to read the comments here. I am also reminded of my childhood. Back when I was a kid it was not in the least unusual to be alone in a wooded area..we did it all the time. Now, of course, seeing a child or two on their own with no chaperone never happens. I worry about if children will ever be able to achieve a feeling of autonomy! It's a cool drawing and I enjoyed the different ideas about it.

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    1. Thanks Celeste! I remember playing in the field behind my neighborhood with the other kids. Not once do I remember being scared though. Different times, for sure.

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  18. It looks like a fun game of "I Spy..." :) And I like it! I am still trying to locate the ghost, but I am guessing "she" is standing in front of the tree trunk(the lighter one), yes?

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    1. You..always gaming! Maybe there is a ghost there too, but I saw it (quite by accident) under the little girl - the ghost of another (or the same?) little girl.

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  19. Jane Young (ED) said: What a beautiful painting. I love the symbolism. It does make one ponder over your painting. Also, giving it a eerie feeling.

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    1. Thanks Jane! I'm glad it seems eery. I wonder if I had said nothing, who would have seen these elements?

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  20. Couldn't enlarge the image:( The discarded toy seemed so sad. The kids have gone to other toys. Nice drawing!

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    1. Yes there is a sadness here. Thanks!

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  21. you are right, at first glance it looks rather idyllic, but it has an eary feel to it. Perhaps it's the red dabs in the foreground have something to do with it, I thought they were blood colour (AFTER reading your thoughts). Thanks for letting us in on the thoughts - I actually thought there was a black bird in the tree. I fthink you could call the feeling here 'desolate' or something.

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    1. Desolate may be right. I hadn't really thought about all the red, but yes - and that was the right color to choose for this, I think. Thanks!

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  22. I think I would have to have seen it up close to spot all those things. I like the idea. On first sight it indeed looks cutesy and idyllic, but when you explain the details it becomes a little creepy. It reminds me of a spread I did in my journal years ago, where I did a painting/collage of a pretty girl in front of a cute house in a colourful landscape. It was done and I was like "this is just too cute", so rummaging through my stuff I found these stickers of little rats and I placed them all over the landscape. I guess it means that I get suspicious when something is just too damned cute. ;-)

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    1. I love it! Darn it! I should have put in a rat! Thank you!

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  23. Thanks so much! I'll be responding to you each individually soon. I so appreciate all of your ideas and stories!

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  24. Sorry I'm having a brain-dead weekend morning and have no thoughts at all... but I'm sure your wife is correct.

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  25. I don't see a ghost and my first thoughts on seeing your painting was Peter Rabbit. Don't ask me why, that's just how my brain works. And I agree...your wife is correct. :)

    I like this painting...especially the turned-over tractor toy.

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  26. Just read this post now and had a good look at the picture. Great work Dan, I love the way it does look idyllic at first glance then after reading the post it could be something else!

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