William Kosman - Artiste Peintre

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

#8: It Really Clicked - Introducing "La Coquette"

"La Coquette"
Detail of the diners in "La Coquette"
Detail of the waitress in "La Coquette"

Dear Fellow Art Lovers:

I don't know if I've done this before, but I'd like to begin this blog entry with a story.

Several weeks ago, my family and I dined at a restaurant in our neighborhood, Coquette, at 5th and Bainbridge Streets, in Philadelphia.

We were offered, and we accepted, a booth table with a direct view onto Bainbridge Street through the large, front window.

The view was spectacular. It had just started snowing, and as we looked past the other diners in the restaurant, and past the play of lights in the restaurant, in the street in front of us, and reflected in the window, and as I looked at the candles on the tables, and the subtle colors in front of me, I said to myself:

"This would be a great painting."

I'm not in the business of plugging restaurants, but we love seafood, and it was spectacular. Our waitress was professional, speedy, and warm and welcoming. The evening was delightful.

Late, with permission and enthusiasm from the owner and the waitress, I took a bunch of photos to serve as guides for the painting.

As is now my practice, I did an ink sketch of what I wanted the painting to be, to make sure I had the best composition and I was getting that feeling of coziness on a wintry night I wanted to transmit. I used to do small oil studies, but I found that the studies were often freer and more appealing than the larger paintings I did. This is probably because the small studies took advantage of my first wave of enthusiasm.

I decided to focus on the waitress, placing her just right of center, and I placed her in between the row of tables just in front of us, at our table. I decided to take advantage of the dulled colors and the reflected light, and I told myself that I would use a light glaze over the windows to show the surface of the glass and hint at the blowing snow.

In the past, I've discussed my desire to feel free and focused when I paint. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I felt great while I painted this work. I can only speculate that it was the enthusiasm I felt for the experience, or how I was touched by the beauty of the scene, but I really felt I knew what I was doing.

One issue that took some thought was how large to paint the waitress. I wanted her to be very present, but now look like the giant who invaded the restaurant. I think I chose well.

I don't know if I every mentioned this to you, but my painting colleagues, who are on the same floor as my studio, have been very helpful. And, in this case also, they gave me input and moral support.

I believe must painters truly value the input from both viewers and other painters. That's one of the reasons I'm writing this blog. I want your opinions, also.

I won't bore you with the same monologue I went through before, about every brush stroke, etc., but it was all true.

I decided to call the painting "La Coquette," in honor of the restaurant, and also because coquette in French means a woman who makes an effort to look good, with the understanding that she succeeded. Which was the case in this case. It's a play on words.

Now, I'm waiting to see what people's reaction to the painting is.

What does it transmit to you? (One thing I should mention to you. If you put your cursor over one of the images above and click, you can enlarge the image for a better view.)

Right now, I'm working on a commissioned work, which Iwill share with you when it's finished.

Thanks for listening to me.

William Kosman