Saturday, June 4, 2011

Herry Arifin: Steam Engine # 1

Talk about an iconic work! Herry Arifin captures the colour of days gone by with this work.

Herry, like many good artists, understands the power of simplicity. This is a pretty straight forward work with two basic elements - a steam engine and a grain elevator.

Notice the drama that Herry creates in the stark contrast between the black of the engine and its smoke and the surrounding whites.

Herry's wet on wet painting technique gives us a picture which wobbles with the flow of his paint; the result being seen in the roof of the grain elevator which bows and bends beneath its mantle of snow. And, when I look at the overall structure of his elevator and the sheds . I see the tilt and lean of time at play. And this contributes to the sense of this being a scene from days gone by when the steam engine ruled the country.

I like the looseness of this work. The smoke isn't restricted to the top left corner. Herry artfully lifts the wet paint from around the surface of the elevator and this gives us misty wreathes of smoke hanging in the air.

Herry uses a variety of colours on his engine and its smoke and this creates a certain visual vitality. I also like the way he charges the smoke with blossoms and lifted smudges - an exciting play of watercolour technique and the smoke unifies the work and engine, sky and buildings are all embraced.

This is an exciting painting by one of Canada's fastest rising watercolour stars.

Artist's Comments

Steam Train No. 1, was my first ever train painting. I've never painted any steam engine prior to that. It begins with a friend of mine who lives in Connecticut gave me a link to a website about trains. As I like to paint city scenes with the vehicles, streetcar etc, steam train isn't a too strange thing to try. So I combined few images and that how this painting emerges from. I never paint from imagination. I need to see to get inspired. Although the inspiration only produces the big picture, the little stuffs those fills the big one some of them come from imagination. I'm not an inventor by nature, but more as an 'improver' if you like.

I don't have one specific way to paint. Most of the time I paint on a flat even surface. Especially if I paint very wet, like in the case of the "At Spadina":
As this is the 2nd one, so the idea of painting steam engine became more familiar to me. And I had a lot of fun with this one. It is clear in the brush strokes which shows all the freedom. Please click here.

You saw the video too (I hope). In fact I rarely tilt the board, as I don't fancy much a moving / flowing pigment (by itself) unless if I wanted it to go to specific direction. Sometimes I paint vertical, like in the case of "Queen/Carlaw": Please click here. which I did in a bus stop by sticking the paper on to the glass wall. You can see the photo when I did that too.

Steam train #1 painting was my first ever train painting. The fact that I always like to paint/ draw transportation vehicles helps me to not feel too strange with painting this engine. As it was my first, I tend to work extra careful, which wasn't so much my nature. It looks too perfect to me though. But as always I don't worry much about the product. I concern about the process. The product is the viewers / collectors to care. I got my bit during the making of it. If you asked me the kind of engine work that excites me more, it is this one: Please click here. As this is the 2nd one, so the idea of painting steam engine became more familiar to me. And I had a lot of fun with this one. It is clear in the brush strokes which shows all the freedom.

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous! Just look at all the colors he's introduced into what could have been an ordinary black and white landscape.


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