If you could know why you paint what you paint …  I am thinking that perhaps the placement of objects might hold the keys to the soul?  Too strong a thought?  I have written before about my epiphanous moments at the grocery store conveyor belt where I note that I arrange my purchases with Cartesian rigor.  When I paint (thankfully) I am rather more laid back.  But the selection of things and their arrangement does tell something about the artist for sure.

This painting goes way back — somewhere around the early 1980s.  My mother used to have a colorful lamp that she got in Japan during the 50s.  The red shade is visible in the upper left:  a bit of whimsical decoration and the lightbulb socket are visible below it.  Why on earth did I not paint the whole lamp?  I think it had a doll-like figure, a Geisha girl or something like that as its theme.

Something red, a ladies handbag, I think, sits between the lamp and the flowers making a wine colored background.  I never “finished” the flowers so at least one bloom defies gravity as it just hangs forever stemless above the glass.

Now compared to this arrangment of reality, I have this oil pastel still life that I made about seven years ago.  My daughter was in first or second grade and I was “playing” with this picture with much the same spirit as my kid put into her games.

The flowers in the second picture are almost camouflaged by whatever it is that sits behind the vase.  I began by placing object in relation to object, and later I put patches of color in relation to patches of color — twenty years difference in my ways of thinking, feeling, arranging.

But you should see me at the grocery store where I am unchanged and never changing– oh, the order, the rigor!


12 thoughts on “The Motive in the Motif

  1. I love that red lamp (and the surreal floating flower 🙂 ) You would be very unimpressed with me at the grocery story – complete abandon and lack of order (that’s me).

  2. I like that you have not painted the whole lamp – like a macro shot in photography.Your reported ordered placement of objects in your grocery shopping expeditions versus the creative arrangements of your paintings is perhaps just a need to balance the right and left brains? ( I have to go and read something that is the complete antithesis of creative writing after writing too much poetry at a stretch 😉 )

  3. Bluebee, you may well be right — or left! Perhaps is a need to balance the hemispheres that leads to a happy chaos when I am painting verses a mathematical rigor at the grocery store conveyor belt (which is also the only mathematics at which I excell!) I am very orderly when I wash dishes too. I do them the old fashion way, sans machine, and I am fast and efficient and it’s all very neat and planned!

    Thank you for your comment and for the kind words about the painting. I really like my flower just hanging there stemless, defying gravity and having something else to hold it us, the structure of the picture itself.


  4. Ben, there is “order in disorder” — exact! that’s also what I tell myself whenever I need wisely to postpone an over-zealous impulse to clean house (not to worry,though, it doesn’t happen often). Thank you for the kind words about the socket peeking!


  5. Hi Aletha,
    I found your blog via Jana Bouc’s blog. Just wanted to say I like your stile. Your use of color is certainly one of the reasons. I am a color lover too, although with absolutely no artistic background. I started recently a blog where I post drawings and paintings from time to time, you’re welcome to have a look.
    What I appreciate the most in your painting with the flower defying gravity is the light and color in the glass vase. With only a few splashes of color, it is lively and suggests very well the trasparency of the glass and the surrounding colors reflected in it.
    I kind of see your admiration for Matisse in your paintings; I love Matisse, this might be why your art is for me so pleasant to look at.
    I will for sure continue reading and enjoying your posts.

  6. Hi Aletha,
    I just realised that the link to my blog was not updated after a web address change, thus if you tried clicking on my name or gravatar you may not have been re-directed correctly. It is now fixed.
    Looking forward to your next posts…

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