This painting offers several topics for me with regard to my father’s artistic process: 1) how he approached composition, and what he looked for when searching for scenes to paint because of these requirements, 2) the way he populated baseline compositions, and 3) his willingness to work with people and elements on the ground, in the moment. Everything was up for grabs, and anything could be used to achieve his goals, whether live in the moment, or many years later, via photograph. I’ll let him explain some of this in his own words:
“I had arrived in the town of Albaída, Spain early one winter morning and had been combing its streets for a promising painting location. I was tired and ready to regard the day’s accomplishments as being my elimination of Albaída as a source for picture material when I came upon this scene. I knew immediately that the composition was a natural. I examined it with delight.
“The road sloped up to the left, furnishing a platform for the main figures as well as a diagonal line to complement the parallel one formed by the tree. That wonderful shaggy tree provided strong textural contrast to the solid buildings. The buildings retreated in a zigzag pattern to produce interesting perspective.
“Even the light and shade were ideally arranged. The dark lacy shadow on the side wall made a good background for the white burro, as did the glancing light on the far wall for the dark burro and cart.
“But the central figures and the burros and the cart weren’t at the original scene. Only the boy sweeping up remodeling debris was there. I had seen the foreground figures a block or so away and was able, with a little wine money, to persuade them to continue their conversation in my composition. The burro and cart had to be transplanted from a distant village by the magic of paint.”