Where did the surrealism go?

Two men shake hands in a snowstorm, set against a canopy of trees.

Two men shake hands in a snowstorm, set against a canopy of trees.

Anyone who regularly follows my work knows that I love surrealism, and love to add surrealistic elements into almost all of my paintings.

“The Agreement” contains no surrealistic images. It’s just two men, shaking hands in a snowstorm set against a forest background. Though there are no surrealistic elements to this painting, it does raise several questions in the viewer’s mind.

“Who are these gentlemen and why are they shaking hands?” is a good place to start. The answer to those questions is entirely up to the viewer.

The idea for the painting (it was finished in late November) came about as a result of a snowstorm that we had well before Thanksgiving. Having only done one other painting featuring snow, I decided snow would be my subject matter and in this particular painting, I wanted it to actually be snowing.

That’s when I decided to have two men greeting each other out in the midst of a snowstorm, set against a canopy of trees. This isn’t a particularly large painting (30″ x 24″) so it didn’t take me too long to rough in the trees.

Creating the foreground, with a blanket of snow also went quite quickly with just a few gradations that helped give a sense of depth to the image. When it came time to paint the two men, I decided one of them should have a beard. I gave them both overcoats which could have come from a by-gone era.

When I was finished painting the two gentlemen, it seemed like the setting could be somewhere in Europe – kind of a cold war feel to it. Or maybe it was more like a painting from the Civil War. Simply naming the painting, “The Agreement” builds in its own story line.

When I began adding in the falling snow, I realized that the trees in the background didn’t require any more detail. After all, there’s a blizzard going on – nothing should be clearly defined.

So this painting was deemed done and I moved onto the next one which took me considerably more time.

I like the simplicity of this painting. I like its starkness. I like its story appeal.

I hope you do, too!

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