Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Out of Context...

Girl in the Red Skirt is a 20x10 open studio oil by Shirley Fachilla.

If you’re a politician, being quoted out of context is almost always bad. But usually phrases and sentences which have been taken out of context are those that capture a thought or feeling best. They are the remembered quotes, the sayings which capture important truths, the lyrics that define an emotion.

“Out of context” seems to work in somewhat the same way in painting. Take a thing or person out of context and that thing can become iconic. Velazquez sometimes stripped his figures down to just the figure and its shadow, omitting even a horizon line. The person painted remained a very specific individual and yet functioned also as an “Everyman,” an icon, if you will, of our humanity. Manet who adored Velazquez consciously copied that technique in The Fifer, a work stunning in both its simplicity and emotion.

Every daily painter who paints just a pear and no more, every painter from life who strips away the studio backdrop and shows only the model is using the “out of context” Velazquez methodology. And every once in a while, in the hands of someone like Julian Merrow-Smith or Don Gray, it works as marvelously as it did for Velazquez.


  1. Just an excellent post, Shirley. Informative and motivating. Excellent points!!

  2. I enjoy seeing what you are paintings; the art insight is such a pleasant addition to your blog. Thank you.

  3. Wow, Shirley, I'm honored to be put in such illustrious company--thank you! This is a beautiful painting, by the way.

  4. Gorgeous painting Shirley, and I really enjoyed the commentary. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Beautiful. So soft and the light is so beautiful.

  6. This painting touch me, Shirley. I do not know you more than through your blog, but Often, I imagine that I could paint too yours models, it looks like we have something of a similar quest in our painting?
    And, btw, I love your painting! :)

  7. Wonderful softness and subdued contemplative feeling to this. Really enjoyed reading your post. I had to write an artist statement for an October group show and wrote I was exploring "off the table and out of context." It's so interesting to read this and now be aware of it in other work I see. This process of finding ways to inform our painting seems infinite! Happy New Year!


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Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...