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"The Entertainer" - A study of people
I was inspired by this drummer who sat just a little off the beaten path at Pier 39 in San Francisco. He performed daily and now, twenty years later, his son has taken over the spot.
As the tourists made their way from pier to pier, some would stop to listen (not close enough to the drummer that he might notice), some would ignore him, and just a few would send their children to deposit a coin in the entertainer's can. I thought it amazing that crowds of people weren't moving closer and surrounding him with applause.
As I sketched the various faces of the people passing by, I thought about his isolation, and loneliness in general. There he was in perfect solitude, while twenty feet away the crowds of visitors were swarming the sidewalks. Back at my studio, I put together some sketches and transferred them to canvas to see where it might lead. Underneath the numerous layers of paint are many beginning compositions.
Originally, there were many brightly colored outfits on the passersby that matched the red, yellow, blue and green of the drummer's hat. In the end I decided to eliminate most of the bright reds and greens from the painting, but I kept the red in his hat . The same red is scattered around the entire painting as dots of paint scraped across the built up texture of other colors.
I scattered a grayed down green in the shadows to maintain the complimentary structure. Obviously, purple and its complimentary color of yellow dominate the painting.
In the close-up photo of the drummer above (click on the picture to see it magnified) the generous application of color is noticeable in the upper left corner above his hat. So many colors and layers have been applied that they become "gray" to the eye when you back up from the painting, while the pure buildup of color in the hat jumps from the background.
I don't consider white a desirable color and I try to stay away from black as it is really the absence of color, but this painting just called out for more dramatic contrast. Of course the blacks are really a buildup of dark brown and dark blue mounds of paint, while the 'white' has been scraped with yellows, blues, oranges and purples.
The white in the drummer's bandaged fingers and shirtsleeves are balanced by the white in all of the women's dresses. They are complemented by the black pants of the entertainer, and the hair, necklace, belt and sweater of the woman at right (see main painting).
In this close-up of the face directly above the Drummer, you can see that the 'black' hair is not really black, nor is the 'white' jacket really white. EVERY color that is in the entire painting is in her hair.
Notice the colors in the hair of the woman above (to the left of the drummer in the painting) EXACTLY echo the colors of the Entertainer's hat. This is one of two faces in the crowd that I detailed enough to show emotion. The exact emotion is left for the viewer to interpret.
This is the other face in the crowd that is detailed enough to express feeling. The 'woman in black and white' is so dynamic that if she were in color she would compete with the main subject. It was very difficult for me to maintain her role as the secondary interest.
Only the entertainer's brightly colored hat and bandaged fingers can draw the viewer's attention from the woman in the white dress. Although the drummer is the reason I started the painting, the woman in the white dress is my vehicle for pouring out my feelings.