Moondance Diner is a Chicago suburban restaurant in Burr Ridge and Westmont. I've known the Owner; Theresa for many years. She wanted a make-over in the Burr Ridge location and I stepped up to the plate on it. We talked a little about a direction and ideas and as what happens with most people...she just turned me loose.
I wanted to create a mood....a soothing setting...someplace where your morning view would be peaceful and serene instead of blaring and bright. A contrary view to most morning restaurants, I guess. But I was searching for something deep, rich and full of blues and lavenders. I knew I wanted a forest view and I wanted it to be beneath a full moon. So I bought the largest canvas I could get (52"x18') and I mounted the entire length onto my Studio wall and just looked at it for the longest time.
It was daunting. Large and empty. I thought; well....just throw a light blue up there and see if I get some inspiration...so I rolled out a nice rich medium toned blue across the upper portion and some ideas did come to mind. I placed the moon a little off center and to the right...and I made it large and intensely bright.
I enhanced it with a glow by layering in slightly lighter blues around it and deeper blues away from the moon glow and then a layer of silhouetted trees also in blue. and running across the entire length. I had my forest view and now I wanted to play with depth and rich colors....
To the left I layered in deep lavender silhouetted trees and created a deeper forest view. As if you were peering into the depth of a glen in the middle of the night and moon lit the trees in a cool glow. I wanted to see into the forest as far as I could. I knew I wanted brighter greens and amber tones in the foreground - so I went pure and deep in the cool tones and pushed the palette. This was all for my intrigue... I was playing with color and letting my imagination wander. I think if I had a photo to copy from I wouldn't have enjoyed this as much.
I rendered my silhouetted trees and then created my foreground layer and these were also in silhouette but the warm unber tones popped against the cool blue and lavender. I could still paint dark but not lose the layering of trees. Moon glow was fun to add as if the softness of the light drifted through branches ....just a little touch of bright warmth here and there added interest and depth. Three deer make their midnight run beneath the giant trees...look close.
It was still a large canvas and I had a lot to fill ...still not even halfway finished but the richness was beginning to come out. I was pulling a memory from my childhood camping days into color and canvas right in front of me. Walking along a stream in the still of a quiet summer night and peering into the forest and seeing how far your imagination and eyes could take you.
I painted an owl sitting on top of a branch on this far left tree....but it looked HORRIBLE and I removed it. Sometimes, stuff just doesn't work out. The concept was good...but it just didn't happen.
I had taped photos of trees near me but I knew what I wanted and it just seemed to flow out from my imagination. Having them nearby was a helpful crutch....something to visually lean on if I got stuck, I guess?
This image above is about 5'x10'....it's really haunting and deep and I have favorite trees ... Ones that lean, curve and twist upwards. People are like that...the ones that bend and curve in life are far more interesting than the ones who only do the right thing all of the time.
...and then it was finished. Three months later and a lot of time in my Studio.
Before installation, I took it to Heartland Printworks in Indianapolis and had it digitally scanned. I wanted to explore this new art medium called 'giclee' printing and Heartland had the largest flatbed scanner in the nation. For me; this was fascinating. The scanner was this large camera mounted vertically and pointed downward onto a large flat bed about the size of a couple of doors. The team at Heartland were extremely careful as they laid the painting out and anchored it down with weights to keep it flat.
The bed of the scanner moved slowly beneath the camera is it recorded every nuance in extreme resolution and into a bank of computers in the adjacent room. It took the Heartland team several separate passes to capture the entire painting. Then they went to work and digitally 'stitched' the three passes together to form one long image.
The digital information was stored into a DVD and computer file and from there I am able to order canvas prints in any size. Giclees are produced one at a time in astounding resoluton. Perhaps this should be my next blog entry? Giclee prints are fascinating.
I installed the art in the spring of 2005. Installation was done with heavy duty wallpaper paste and the smallest wooden piece of trim I could find. The trim acted as a 'frame' and held then ends flush with the wall. I painted over the frame and continued the art all of the way to fill and complete the entire length (apparently, 18' of canvas didn't fill the entire length).
The art is still in Moondance and has attracted a lot of viewers. It's become iconic to the place. People know this painting and love to sit beneath the full moon and enjoy their coffee and pancakes and wake up slowly. Interestingly; the same way I do.
I began selling beautiful prints of this painting on canvas and museum grade paper and the response has been wonderful. An 11x33" paper print sells for $90 (shipping not included). I'd love to get this soothing piece of art into some spa locations. The color palette of the art is soothing...trees in soft moonlight. I love looking at the art!