Flying by Mitsch Kohn
Dominique Hoffer Switzerland
At first, I am working as a professional pilot for various swiss and south african airlines (1972-1988). In 1988, I quit cockpits and dedicate myself to painting. Oil on canvas has become my tool very soon. I like to figure strange, unusual, poetic situations and atmospheres, including these four elements, most of the time : Nature, characters, animals and objects. All elements are figured in a realistic manner, but in an unreal collection.
“L’ODEUR DU VENT”
( 23 x 35 inches ) - ( 60 x 90 cm )
STEP 1I start with a pencil to draw the main lines. The subject is a dream about traveling in Africa. A woman sleeping in a hammock, hanging on the left side to a brick wall and, on the right side, that hammock is ending in an endless road to the horizon. On the left side of the wall, there will be some bags and suitcases. A leopard is touching the hammock with his nose, and by this way changes it into a road. The animal is loosing some of its black spots on the floor. On the backside, there will be a view of an African plain, under a grey sky.
I am using pictures found in various magazines, such as the woman in the hammock, the leopard. For the suitcases, I have them at home. Wall, background and the stone floor on the foreground are just imagination.
At this stage, I still wonder if I am going to add someone in the image, or not, I think about the colours of the background, and of the foreground. What to do else to be satisfied and start with the painting
At the end of the day, I finally added a man standing on an unreal support, like waiting for an answer in the wind…. Let’s see how this will react with colours
STEP 3This morning, on a brand new palette (a plain canvas board, 30 x 40 cm. )I display my usual colours, without which I am nothing : Lamp Black, Titanium White, Lemon Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine. When needed, I add some Cadmium Red Deep, and Madder Lake Deep as well. But for the time being, I am not going to use any red. From these said colours, I can obtain any other colour, i.e. I never buy any tube of green !
I am starting with the more distant background, the sky. As I’ve been dreaming of a yellow and grey sky, I try to do my best to get an effect of sundown (without any sun… it would be kitsch, then) on an African plain. This is only a first layer. It seems far away from what I want, I will need at least 3 layers of painting to get this effect I’m aiming for !
STEP 4First layer of the background is almost finished. I am not happy with the sky, clouds are too big, its colours are not giving the effect I expected. I will have to correct that with the second layer.
About the African bush, it is the atmosphere I wanted. Nevertheless, the work is not at its end, lots of battling is to come. I have in mind this unforgettable view from Olifant camp in Kruger Park (South Africa), though it is not a representation of it. Only the atmosphere !
I am excited at the idea to start painting my subjects… but reasonably, it is too important to set off the background at first, even if I will return to it afterwards.
STEP 5This morning, I “worked” the sky. It is now smoother, and maybe will need just a little touch at the end. I am starting a second layer of the bush, on the left side of the wall, diluting my colours with the Talens medium 083. I decide to just spray the Burnt Sienna/Yellow Ochre on my suitcases. No shadows, no light, nothing else, as these colours need a basis : they are quite transparent on the canvas.
And just now, I think this is awful !!! Patience is the main quality in painting…. I’m building my brick wall. contrasts are not at their best ! I know that everything will take place, with a few changes later on. It is always the case : when I have my plain canvas in front of me, before drawing anything, I am full of enthusiasm.
The white surface enhances my imagination. Then I start with the pencil, and I still think this will be so easy, and well done quickly. Once the colours do their show, the story changes, and I become full of doubt. Always. Sometimes, I need months (!!) to get what I really want.
STEP 6Yesterday, I worked the background, the bush… I think I will have to come back to it later on. It is just a good start… Let us see how it will react with the main subjects. This morning, I added a new layer to the stones on the foreground. I want them sitting in the air, on top of the bush. When I look to the sky, I think it is Ok, but, wait and see !
This afternoon, I brushed a first layer on my leopard. No spots yet (it would be stupid to turn around the spots with my brush….) This bastard, killer for fun !, that I love so much, (one of the “Big Five” in South Africa), will need a second layer before I am allowing it having spots.
This afternoon, I attacked the man standing on the left side of the wall. The support will be made of leopard skin. I am still not sure about the mast holding the whole thing. Too bland, maybe. I have to make it darker.
“Ouh, là, là”, it is so difficult to paint what I want ! In summer, hopefully, colours are drying quicker than in any other time of the year. It is the reason why, I can go on with my painting every day now, going from one side to another, as I need to put my wrist on the canvas when handling my brush for the small details !
And all that, maybe for nothing…. Sometimes, my work looks to me so disastrous, that the only way to get rid of it, is the garbage dump in the village, my best gallery ! No ! I will dream, I will work, I will do what I can to create something what I want !
STEP 7I have achieved the man standing on the left side. I made it with the suitcases. They will just need some small arrangements such as lights and shadows. I sprayed a second layer on my brick wall, and this will need also some small details to be added at the end. Next step : the woman, its face and part of her dress. She will have to be dry before I am starting the hammock.
In the meantime, I am going to give a second layer to my leopard, and let it dry as well. At this stage, I am getting more confident. Things are looking right, happily ! And this is the moment where painting starts to be fun ! Any detail I add now, is just fun : light, shadow, spots, any small detail. I love that moment : anything I will do is just going to improve what I have settled down weeks ago !
But, I am having in mind, that the work is not finished. I know too well that everything can go wrong anytime, and that the image, at the end, may be not interesting at all….
STEP 8First layer for the sleeping lady. This brings a bit more live to the whole thing ! I sprayed a thin layer of Titanium white on the forehead stones.
My leopard has received a third of all its spots ! All my paintings have got kind of a key : a figure, an object, an animal, something which will help all the details to fit together with harmony… and today, I hope this element will be the leopard, as none of the other subjects can take this place…. Full of doubt again ! My leopard has to be the key !
STEP 9My leopard has got its spots ! The hook of the hammock is made, part of the hammock is finished. Today, I am coming back on the bush of the background. I am at a stage where I wonder whether there is anything missing in this image ? Too neat, too clean, is that story interesting enough ? Maybe,
I will add something… in the sky on the right hand side ? An aircraft passing by, a balloon…? Maybe, I will change the color of the stones on the foreground………… As usual, when I progress in my work, doubts are coming ! I’ll wait for the fore-coming night as it is the best time to think about solutions !
STEP 10Time has come for correcting some details.
Today, I have improved the aspect of the bush, seen from the airs, strengthened the colour of the man’s trousers, and decided to correct part of the hammock, which will be better on a darker background.
I have added some light on the suitcases.
I worked 3 sides of my canvas : As usual, the image continues on each of the four sides. The lower one is always worked at the end, once I have finished and signed the painting.
STEP 11The hammock is made now.
I have added balloons in the sky on the right hand side and deepened some of the green parts of the bush. Is my painting really finished ? I am never sure of that. However, I sign, and turn my canvas upside down so that I can work the lower side !
And my title is : “L’ODEUR DU VENT”.
The Final Art Work L’ODEUR DU VENT
Thank you for your time and visiting my site !