On Easter Sunday, 2011, I was painting the El Cortez Hotel on Fremont Street in Las Vegas alongside fellow artist Ari Lankin. That day, a woman named Susan Pieper stopped by and asked if she could take a couple of action photos. We agreed, and I added, “it would be great if you can send those over if you have a chance.”
Susan said yes, and added she’d love for me to paint an important landmark in her hometown some day. Well, sure enough, Susan sent the photos, and about eight months later — Paulding County in Ohio commissioned this painting of their historical Carnegie Library.
Above, you will see the source image I used as a point of departure… the lower image indicates where I planned on collaging the surface.
Following some initial feedback, we decided to replace the current full trees in the front of the building with the younger saplings from years ago… and, of course, the flowing flag.
After the jump, a recap of my contribution to the history of this venerable building.
Starting out the 24″X36″ canvas with a basic outline of the building, and collaged headlines trimmed to form.
The content was carefully chosen to add a literary flare to both the history of the Carnegie Library and surface of the canvas.
Fully collaged with a preliminary drawing, I then bathed the surface in an orange gel-medium wash.
Getting down to business: the sky is blue and the grass is green.
With a larger un-collaged tree flanking the side of the building, I wanted to give it a distinctive look and feel.
Beginning to carve into the building itself… I strove to create the elements individually… stones, windows, cornices.
In another departure from my standard process, I painted the windows with a wet palette of six colors.
Here is a detail of the main entrance… the interior had to feel active and alive.
The painting is really starting to take shape at this stage, but I wasn’t feeling the light tone of the marble, so I decided to dig deeper.
I studied the original image of the building and found the deepest tone I could identify and applied that as the base color. Alas, it was too dark.
Meanwhile, the area around the building continues to build… the foreground was formed with a sea of greys, greens and select deeper and mid tones.
This was a key moment, I found the correct base tone of the building, and mixed a purple-yellow complement to establish the shadows. Once dried, I hand painted each brick in a slightly lighter tone.
And here it is, the Paulding County Carnegie Library. I am honored to be the first artist commissioned by Paulding County, Ohio — a project I owe to Susan Pieper’s passion and conviction. Thank you Susan, Michelle, the Paulding County Carnegie Library Board of Directors and Paulding County, Ohio.
Salute the flag… detail. If you stare at the stripes, you can see the letters coming through.
A close-up of the hand-painted bricks and collaged tree-line.
And the signature. Borbay. 2012.
Play it again Sam.