“Truth and Deception”


“Truth and Deception”, oil, 36hx36w

The concept for this painting started after I read an article about Truth and Rhetoric. The theme of the article was that people don’t often know what the truth is and have different interpretations of the truth. Rhetoric is when language is used to persuade and may lack quality of content or be deceptive.

Not Using Words 

I wanted to create a visual definition of this concept. The first draft of this idea was the sample drawing below.


I wanted to show that truth is there, but not identifiable. That is why the woman has her head covered. The doves are different versions of the truth, which she is releasing. Rhetoric was to be a very flamboyant character.


In this version, I came up with the idea that he was baiting the doves of Truth with a piece of bread. Notice the squirming bird in his hand. I had a model pose for Truth. Rhetoric was from studies of old portraits.

Serendipity and Scorpions

I really liked Truth and the bread baiting of the doves idea, but Rhetoric was just too much like a pirate for me. So, I put this concept aside and lived life for a while…

Me: Must think about man in painting, but haven’t quite put my finger on it yet.

Pictorial concepts are always on the back burner in my head and I am always open to inspiration. While working in my garden, I picked up a piece of wood to find a fat scorpion living under it. What seemed so safe in an instant became a threat…

Me: Still no ideas about the man in the painting – but know I don’t want him to look like “Jack Sparrow”. Note to self…the scorpion was creepy.

True Story: Driving down my neighborhood, thinking about this painting, I pass a man walking with no shirt on. He has a HUGE tattoo of a scorpion on his back.



The thought came to me that finding a scorpion under a rock was very much like deception. You didn’t know it was there until you discovered it and now it is obvious. What if I hid the scorpion in the back of the man in the painting? He would become the worst of rhetoric… Deception.

I drew from a model – not the man on the street – for the man in my painting. I played with the lighting to get shadows to fall where the scorpion would be.


The Speak like a Peach

Another place I love to find inspiration is in my “Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols of Art”, by James Hall. I bought this book in college and love to thumb through it. Much of the symbolism is lost to today’s art viewers, but I find it fun to throw stuff in my paintings regardless. My dictionary tells me that a peach, especially the pit and a leaf attached to the fruit, symbolized speaking truthfully from the heart…The heart being the pit and the leaf the tongue. Ok. Cool! This helped inspire the background, which happens to be a peach tree in my back yard – not too far from where I found the scorpion!


There you have it…truth and deception, a pictorial definition.


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