saints

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.

Old Sketches, New Saints by Kerri McGill

I know a woman who works every day. She ends her shift by taking her granddaughter from her daughter. So her daughter takes up where she left off...and vice-versa. She says identity theft was the best thing ever happened to her. The culprits took out a loan, paid it on time, and for the first time in her life she had good credit.

I know a man who bets on horses based on their horoscopes and the stars (the horses' horoscopes-not his.) I don't think he gets accurate birth dates as he still works at the lot.

I worked with five brothers from Brazil who couldn't get back home for their mother's funeral.

My bank tellers bring their kids to work on Saturdays.

Life is a challenge daily, here. These are the people I gauge my perspective by. During the time around Katrina, these are the people I really started to watch, mostly because we were all in the same boat.

Painting Fly Away in response to the Katrina Disaster got me looking at Medieval woodcuts. I felt like I was living in the New Dark Age. I blamed the government for a landscape of fear, war, misused religion and unchecked business. Working in the airport didn't help matters. (At the airport, there were a lot o people in my "boat".)

The cool expressions of individuals in peril, suffering for their belief repeat throughout medieval texts. (Such familiar faces like those I work with) Thick lines of the wood cut and the stain glass window create bold simplification of both the serene face of the saint and the symbol of the story. Out of context, it's anyone's guess what dangers the story holds. I like this aspect quite abit.

This group of sketches use the idea of the saint and symbol without a back story. The placid composure of the subjects make potentially alarming situations ambiguous. They are contemporary subjects, those who take on any challenge and make it through the day and keep a poised demeanor for the sake of those around them, their children, job, for their own sense of control. They are not allowed to panic.

Slowly but surely these sketches all became paintings. You'll see why I couldn't leave these guys alone.