Lee Al­ban

Mary­land, USA, Know The River Has Its Des­ti­na­tion, oil, 18 x 24" (46 x 61 cm)

International Artist - - Art Challenge -


My In­spi­ra­tion

I was in­vited to ex­hibit sev­eral paint­ings at the Trav­el­ing the West Show & Sale. Although I had many land­scape photo ref­er­ences from vis­it­ing var­i­ous western states, I did not have many ref­er­ences that would re­late to travel. I had al­ready used a train for one paint­ing and a diner in another. Liv­ing on the East Coast I did not have ready ac­cess to Na­tive Amer­i­can nor cow­boy mod­els, au­then­tic cloth­ing, etc. My first thought was that I could paint a tra­di­tional land­scape and use a vin­tage pho­to­graph as a ref­er­ence to add fig­ures.

My De­sign Strat­egy

I looked at a lot of ref­er­ences, my land­scape photos and on­line sources of vin­tage Na­tive Amer­i­can pho­to­graphs, try­ing to find a work­able com­bi­na­tion. Noth­ing re­ally came to­gether and sud­denly I had an idea. Why not paint a tra­di­tional land­scape and, in­stead of putting fig­ures in the scene, paint a Trompe l’oeil of a vin­tage pho­to­graph on top of the land­scape. It would look like some­one taped a pho­to­graph to the sur­face of the paint­ing. I would use this to es­tab­lish a theme and pro­duce a se­ries of paint­ings, which I called Spir­its Of The Amer­i­can West. The Trompe l’oeil pho­to­graphs would rep­re­sent the re­turn of Na­tive Amer­i­cans to lands, which they once oc­cu­pied. I then de­cided to find Na­tive Amer­i­can say­ings to use for ti­tles, pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional homage.

My Work­ing Process

I used a land­scape photo that I had taken in Yosemite Na­tional Park and I searched the on­line cat­a­log of the Li­brary of Congress, brows­ing hun­dreds of vin­tage pho­to­graphs for in­spi­ra­tion. I de­cided on the size of the Trompe l’oeil paint­ing, re­served that area for its in­clu­sion, and then painted a tra­di­tional land­scape. I used green um­ber, raw um­ber and flake white to paint a monochro­matic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the vin­tage pho­to­graph, pro­duc­ing an il­lu­sion of age and adding creases and tears. Fi­nally, I used var­i­ous key words to search the in­ter­net for an ap­pro­pri­ate Na­tive Amer­i­can say­ing.

Con­tact De­tails

» Email: leeal­ban@comcast.net » Web­site: www.leeal­ban.com

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