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Art Show: Works of Steinbeck

Road to California

by David Kellam Brown

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Art: Road to California by Artist David Kellam Brown
Inspiration:

_Grapes of Wrath_ is definitely the novel that most people think if when they hear the name John Steinbeck. Some of the recurring themes in my paintings could have been taken from Steinbeck's subjects however none of the paintings were specifically drawn from one of his works before "Road to California". Even thought this work is intended to immediately evoke an "Oh - that's Steinbeck" response, it is not truly an illustration of any one scene from, say, _Grapes of Wrath_ or _East of Eden_. From that standpoint it is not really an illustration per se, however, it is intended to illustrate and convey a general sitution of stress and mood.

Concept:

The car actually becomes more of the focal point of this piece and the figures are used as subjects to inject or activate the pathos of the situation. The entire piece is structured to be an almost surreal world of dust, dispair, and destiny in a land that is swallowing the struggling humans. The dust storms of the plains seem to be following the characters in the upper reaches of the sky while the people and the car are becoming distorted and stretched into the bleak spaces of the world with which they are contending.

Execution:

Acrylic is usually thought of a a "hard edge" medium, particularly when applied to panel, however, I prefer to use it with repeated glazes, dry brush and scumbling to give mixture or lost and found edges and shapes. When doing this in a wet over semi-dry technique, the very rapid drying properties of acrylic become a benefit in that the work can be completed quickly with considerable emotional drive.

This painting started with the car, which is taken from a very small image (less than 1" square) which was part of a photo in a stack of photos that I found in my mother's estate. The figures and environment were created from my imagination and are intentionally vague. The figures are just strong enough to create the emotional tension between themselves and the car. I used pose and posture of the figures to convey their relationship and bond while the car and the landscape represent the antagonist. While the car is painted with fair realistic detail, its slighly distorted perspective presents it as part of the dreamlike stress of the scene.

Because of the many experimental factors that I am presenting in this piece, it should probably be considered a WIP, or a stage in concept development.


Detail Images


Detail Image for art Road to California

Detail 1

Detail Image for art Road to California

Detail 2

Detail Image for art Road to California

Detail 3

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