After I drew the more elaborate Lattice picture during the concert last night (earlier post), the thought popped into my head that “I could put anything anywhere.” It’s just a compositional sketch, after all. Why limit your thinking? To try out different options, I could rearrange the furniture of things that I knew I wanted in the painting. I could do it in the most unencumbered and straightforward way possible.
You just ask yourself questions. I begin (it’s an on-going process) by asking myself questions like: “what if I put the fish here?” “What if I put the owl there?” “What if the fence goes all the way to the bottom?”
“What if the water were flat?” “What if there were some tall grasses on the lower right?”
And so on.
These might resemble the “thumbnail” sketches taught in art school. They could not be further removed. The rearranging of things in the sketches has nothing to do with notions about good design or golden sections or whatever the thumbnail sketches are supposed to help solve.
The little compositional thingies are just visual ways of saying “what if the couch faced the window?” Or “what if we unloaded that stock and bought Company X stocks instead?” Or, “should we get a dog or a cat?” “Compact car or sports car?” “Cupcakes or cookies?”
They are exercises in brainstorming. They are a visual list. They are dream narratives. They are choices.
I set up still lifes for everything. Having a still life doesn’t mean that you have to depict it literally, either. You can use it as a platform for generating ideas. It gives you something to look at and think about. I simulate that process here by arranging some photos of a lattice (part of a baby gate) placed in front of a cloth decorated with a chain grid pattern. I altered the colors as much as my primitive photo edit program will allow.
Of course, by drawing something like this, I can alter the colors in any way I please. My “programming” is more variable.
WordPress’s photo format lets me further alter them by creating a composition made of square tiles.
This other photo below was edited through resizing, stretching one side while leaving the other side alone.
Fences keep things out and keep things in. The apertures of the chain link fence let many things in — to say nothing of all the things that fly over it. Animals and people are kept out or let in. Birds and insects don’t know there’s even a fence. For the bird or the insect, it’s a perch. For the spider it’s a place to build the web.
Lattice fences hold a fascination for me. I don’t know why. But I note that many other things that I want to put into the painting have lattices in them also — fish scales, owl feathers, cicada wings, dragonfly wings, a spider’s web, leaves (okay, that one’s a stretch — but Pierre Bonnard — ask him about little leafy squares), wave patterns ….
I had done the lattice before without awareness of the many connections, as the chain link fence in this drawing which is also a drawing for a painting that is “in the works.”
The lattice is the ultimate in negative space. Half the fun is that you can paint the thing and the space inside it too. I see the whole picture as a matrix and a veil in front of the eyes, a reality one creates like the dreamer of Ursula Le Guin’s Lathe of Heaven.
Still riffing on the idea featured in yesterday’s posts, I made a compositional drawing while listening to a cello recital last night. Because I was at a concert, I pursued the drawing in terms of filling in most of the white page (except for the passage that would be light colored in a painting). It was mesmerizing to darken all those little squares while the music carried my thoughts into itself. But this drawing is not definite.
I don’t know what the composition should be. I am figuring it out. Yesterday’s posts were about a section of foliage in the picture. Last night’s drawing during the concert was a way of imagining the whole.