This is part three of five posts that make up the transcript of my conversation with Ellen Forney about her paintings seen at Secluded Alley Works though much of November, 2003. I’m breaking it up to make it easier to read.
M: Now, just now as you were talking about the process of setting up the poses, you first demonstrated one pose that you decided you didn’t wanna use for one of the paintings and now you echoed her – Ariel ‘s pose. Now, talking with cartoonists about their process, a lot of times, cartoonists work by themselves, and so there’s almost a puppetry aspect to cartooning where a lot of times cartoonists will sort of take on the pose that they are drawing to sort of think about the anatomy. Was that something that you did as you were working on these paintings?
EF: Take on the pose?
M: Well, you just echoed the pose here –
EF: Yeah. Well, actually, one of the things that’s been important for me in this series is to really work from these model’s bodies., because I use my own self as a model a lot. A lot! All the time, because I am my own most accessible model. I use my own face for facial expressions – I have a hard time drawing out of my head so I wind up using myself a lot. So that limits my repertoire. It limits my knowledge of how the body is put together.
So, I really try not to. That’s one of the reasons I hold on to the photographs. I want to go back to that model, not to myself.
M: Looking back at the project as far as it’s gotten, are you going to keep working in painting as a primary medium? Is it a good direction for you? Was this a successful experiment for you?
EF: Primary medium? I mean, I’m going to keep on with this series. Actually, I already have a few lined up. Some sketches done that’s ready to be transferred – and I have a few more models lined up for the next show. I intend to keep going on this series until I get tired of it.
M: You gonna keep the same format? They’re all roughly the same size and shape, right?
EF: Yeah, yeah. Well, I’ve really been happy with this size, this structure. With each one I feel like I’ve learned a lot and I’ve changed a lot. Like this is the last one that I did and look at the modeling, and look at the hair – I mean, I’ve actually done it in a really graphic way over there but …
M: I was noticing the hair, actually – the comparison between these two versions of it. I’m pointing at Tamara with Pink Glitter [the drawing] and Tamara the painting. And Tamara the painting has al the predominant colors that are used within the painting itself – the blue of her outfit, and the red and the pink and stuff as well as the browns and blondes of her hair. But in the ink drawing, it’s very graphic with light shining down on the top of the hair and black under the flip of it. But, yeah I noticed that happening.
And then, you used modeling here in – I have to say the name so I know what the hell I’m talking about later – K-O – she’s wearing a black ‘Slayer’ tee shirt that looks like it’s faded from a lot of wear.
EF: Exactly. And that was what made me do that shading! Again, it was like, “ Fuck ! Now I have to learn how to paint!” It was like, you know, I did this whole, this whole shirt flat but it was supposed to be – supposed to look like it was – it had been a black shirt and had been washed so many times that it was really thin.
And so it had to drape in a certain way, it had to be thin, and so it’s like, “Goddammit, you know, I have to model.” It’s something that I that I – I’m really accustomed to showing volume through line.
M: Right. You’re still doing this here [in the painting], but I see that you have – it looks to me like – like you did maybe an underpainting? And then you did, let’s see… I guess you did the flesh and then you did the final line on top of that. That’s what it looks like. Is that correct?
EF: Well, from, um, from my third painting – for my third, fourth and fifth painting – I do underpainting, I’ve done underpainting. For this one [ Ariel ] I did the entire canvas pink. You can see little bits of pink paint peeking out, you know, pink in different places.
M: Is any of that pink that you initially sort of brought into the painting as a part of the final tone? It doesn’t really look like it to me.
EF: Enhh – I dunno. Probably the same pink as the lips and the nipples maybe? You can see this one spot that I forgot to fill in.
M: Oh I see, right here [a spot in the inner surface of the open-toed sandal’s sole, between toes].
EF: This one, I filled in [ Tamara ]– it was purple, and you can still see some of the purple peeking through…
And on K—-‘s [ K-O ] I painted it all blue. K-O. It was all blue, and you can see a little bit of blue peeking through in different places. So, the whole thing was blue. Rather than painting it red and then bringing the blue in, it was all blue and then I just worked the paint, the brightness in, rather than the other way around.
And I put the paint in thicker than I have anywhere else. It’s practically right out of the tube [indicating a bright red negative space on K-O].
M: [chuckles] There’s something kind of, um, sexual about that actually.
EF: Absolutely! It’s very sensual! And again, it’s really powerful! It’s – it’s bold! And I’m feeling a lot more confident in my painting, and I think that it shows. But I was really tentative to start. I mean, I have a long way to go, of course, I’ve just started.
But the kind of a learning curve in the beginning is really exhilarating.
(end part three)