Sketches to Paintings / by Kerri McGill

Sketches come from bold, reactive play with simple carved form into the oils with charcoal fast and dirty. The palette is less complex than the painting. But don't kid yourself, I can fuss for days on the sketches too. I never know when my next studio time will be. Some of the sketches are precious to me and wait for years before a more substantial object is made.

Sometimes the painting is a close reinterpretation. Hummingbird Girl sketch and "Hummingbird Halo" have many of the same elements. The palette and lighting are deeper. The hummingbirds achieve a different spatial tension and movement. The painting also introduces a woman with smudged lipstick. It's a small detail. The little details are gifts to the viewer who keeps looking. It broadens the story.

Other times the essence of the sketch sketch evolves dramatically. "Eaglehandler" portrays a very plain girl with an enormous, rather well behaved, eagle on her ungloved hand. The sketch does not have the visual tension of the actual scenario.Eagles are big raptors that should not perch on anyone's hand unaided.

The following painting, "The Facilitator", creates a more engaging situation and the title adds nicely too. The woman is more refined, the eagle, more raptorous. Adding the titmouse in her right hand would be trite if I kept the eagle's original stance from the sketch. It would have been titled "food chain". Eye contact is skewed between the main players, so motives remain veiled.

The talon to bare hand reveals the nature of the relationship between woman and eagle. In the sketch, it is also the weakest point...It's a mush of charcoal and pretend. The painting shows less mush and more pretend.