In the Studio: Process of a Painting with Jeffrey Deane Hall

Working with iconic images to unite similar subject matter, painter Jeffrey Deane Hall (NAP# 100) combines mathematical and painterly techniques to merge media and themes together.  His paintings are a mix of assemblage and collage and they have an architectural and puzzle-like aesthetic.

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Jeffrey Deane Hall | Man Recast, oil painting on panel, 18x24", 2012.


In “Man Recast,” Hall explores the subject of marriage through two well-known and lauded works: Jan van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Wedding (or The Arnolfini Portrait), 1434, and Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelor's, Even (or The Large Glass), 1915 to 1923.  During his 45-day process, Hall superimposes shapes and contours from both existing works to begin creating new shapes, lines, and planes where the painting fragments intersect.

He reworks these masters by creatively reexamining the art historic canon, bringing both the subject and work to the present, and challenging viewers to consider what makes a marriage last—and even, perhaps, what makes a painting last?  In this Process of a Painting, Hall explains his process and methodology as he recasts van Eyck and Duchamp in Man Recast- Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

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Jeffrey Deane Hall:  In regards to my process, I begin with an idea.  In this case, I wanted to do a painting about the subject of marriage.  I begin by seeking out iconic works of art that address the theme in ways that relate the meaning I hope to convey.   Believe it or not, this is one of the most challenging parts of my process and I have been thinking about this work for the past year or two, trying to work it out.  I finally landed on “The Arnolfini Wedding” by van Eyck…

3. Duchamp

…and “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelor's, Even” by Duchamp.    

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From there, I develop my composition by superimposing the contours of the work and then begin to edit which shapes to keep.  

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Next I have to determine what textures I will use to again communicate my theme.  In this piece, I didn't want to use tape or cardboard as they convey as very temporary nature.  Instead, my idea was to use materials given as gifts at certain [wedding] anniversaries, which is a part of my German heritage.  I chose paper, wood, painted tin, ceramics, crystal, silver, and gold and then began the process of determining what goes where to achieve a balanced composition.  

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There were many false starts and edits as I particularly struggled to capture the sense of the painted tin.  Finally, adding some rust helped to capture the feeling I was going for.  

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The painting is built up layer by layer until lastly, the drop shadows and highlights complete the illusion.  I also added in small sketches referencing the original paintings, on the paper.

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Finished Painting: Jeffrey Deane Hall | Man Recast, oil painting on panel, 18x24", 2012.


In all my work, I want there to be layer of "reveal" and meaning.  Most folks stop at the trompe l'oeil painting technique, but others dig deeper and discover the references to art history.  Still others, will piece together the allegorical meaning of the materials with those of the paintings to gain an even deeper understanding.  Like all great paintings, I like for there to be a sense of mystery about the work.  Not everything adds up.

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Man Recast | Detail
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Man Recast | Detail

To that end, I chose the title Man Recast.  It's an anagram of the word "sacrament," again referencing the religious and trans-formative power of marriage, depending on how you look at it.

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Jeffrey Deane Hall working on Man Recast


A Richmond, VA native, Jeffrey Deane Hall is both an artist and art educator who received his Master’s from Virginia Commonwealth University.  His trompe l’oeil art-historical “mash-up” paintings explore the struggle to find new meaning in the collision of old ideas and in the words of Michael Rook, curator at the High Museum of Art, “speak to the incessant sampling and recycling of imagery.”

Hall’s work can be found in myriad of public and private art collections both in the United States and abroad. He currently lives and works in Richmond with his artist wife, Colleen, and their two girls.  Hall has a forthcoming show at Main Art Gallery in Richmond, VA, in March of 2014.  This show will feature Man Recast as well as others from NAP #100. 

Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, writer, and editor.

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