3 July 2011
I am at the point where I know that I will never be satisfied with this work so I have to look at it differently. If it were beautifully framed in an exhibition, would I be drawn to have a closer look at it? The answer is a definite yes, so it must have something about it that is compelling. Up close though, technically it frustrates me. I can see what was in my mind, and it is not what is on the paper. I know that I will be painting this one again.
The source photograph is less ambiguous. It is part of a larger photograph of local civilians being driven out of their homes, with some changes to make the composition work. The women and the children formed a long train of cold and hungry residents with nowhere to go. I wonder, what nationality was the person who took the photograph? I am guessing, from the fear in the faces of the children, that it was a soldier. The woman in the photograph has a strong, resolute but also haunted look.
I hope that I have painted these figures in a more ambiguous manner. I'd like to inspire more questions than answers. The boy on foot is wearing what looks like an army uniform. It is far too big for him, but the sleeves are rolled up, perhaps to keep them out of the mud when he picks grasses to eat along the way, leaving his hands frozen. Why is the mother carrying the bigger boy when the little girl is crying? Is the child in her arms wounded? Is the little girl turning back to look for her own mother?
In the photograph there are several children, and only one adult. There are sacks of possessions along the path, and one imagines that she is hoping that someone will come to assist in this weary journey. The mud, the children with bare feet, the desolute nature of the travel give a sad and haunting image. I hope that there is a little more hope in my painting, that the person they have turned to might be bringing some hope and assistance to the group.
It's time to put it aside now... if I can.