This American Heart Association fundraiser was held in the spacious Tacoma convention Center, where the theme of the lobby art recalls the city’s timber roots. What looks like a brown X in the left side of the picture is an installation of heavy beams, salvaged from pioneer era buildings that used to occupy the site.
When I began painting, the room was filled with daylight, its panorama extending from the skyline to Mount Rainier. As with the painting in Benaroya Hall last October, the great challenge was for me to anticipate what the room would look like after dark, yet capture as much of the architectural setting as possible before the guests arrived. This is literally a reversal of light and dark. In the afternoon, the atrium walls were dark lines across a bright sky; by evening they became silver bars across blackened reflections. It was necessary to draw the window frames to establish the perspective of the room, but as the light changed, they had to be redrawn with the opposite colors.
Then why don’t I just use a pencil? I draw directly with oil paint, because it can be wiped off and changed much easier than erasing pencil, and because anything that doesn’t need changing is already finished without additional coloring.
These live event paintings are constantly changing until the evening is over. I routinely wipe off figures and fixtures to replace them with new people who’ve entered the room. But if I followed the academic method of drawing first with pencil or charcoal, then applying a fixative and coloring afterward in oils, I would not be able to change the initial drawing as the party moves and morphs. Not only would I be unable to erase the fixed pencil lines, once the painting began I would not be able to go back and add more pencil lines. My direct technique allows me to decide at the last minute to add your flower girl, as she is suddenly chased through the scene by the ring barer, and then gone.