I’m wondering what will happen if I just let the ideas appear, not judging or interfering in the perceptions. I think it would be delightful to be surprised by my own painting. Sometimes that happens. It is as though someone else painted the picture. If you know you’ve got a certain measure of skill, what if you just forget about all the “shoulds” that you ever heard, and instead use the skills you have (whatever they are) to respond to the motif, and let the chips fall where they may?
Then what happens? I am wondering what it’s like to do painting as a form of inquiry, as a way of asking lots of questions, following the thoughts with the colors of paint, and then be as surprised as the next person about the results.
I have some plans for a largish painting that will feature an abundant amount of red. I think about it often. The studio is set up for other things at present, so I have to finish those first. But for my “warm ups” I have begun doing small pictures that are very red.
It’s fun. It’s thrilling — to have a few bits of the much longed for experience. I love playing around with colors.
The painting at the top measures 9 x 12 inches. The lower on is 8 x 10. Both are painted with acrylics.
I feel an unabashed love for the material appearance of oil pastels (Caran d’Ache Neopastels to be precise). I love to describe somewhat “loopy” forms with them. I love mixing colors by abrasion. I love the way that you can drag one color across another and create as it were almost veils of color.
So even when the situation is stalled (as I make drawings for a painting that I’m unsure how to complete), I can nonetheless love the act of drawing because the materials themselves are so beautiful.
I have rehearsed these forms many times and they still hold my interest. Indeed, it’s stronger than that. They hold me captive.
A complex ensemble of varied objects sits on a table decorated by a large bouquet. The table cloth is brilliant red. The flowers are of many types: lilies, daisies, carnations, roses. A couple of winter gourds, a queen conch seashell, and a blue pedestal glass filled with smaller seashells sits beside the flowers. Behind them a cloth of pale blues and silver adds a sky-like element. And off to the far right a deep red-orange cloth peeks out framed by some hanging purple flowers from a vase sitting outside the picture frame.
The complexity of a scene like this one gives the artist many sources of intrigue. I love exploring the shapes of many things when they are bunched altogether. It’s a passion that hopefully transfers to the spectator. In any scene of things, many wonderful visual features are always present. One of the aims of visual art is to provoke us to look more deeply into the appearances of the world. Every corner of the universe is filled with splendor. And splendor can begin with the simple contemplation of even a color. A brilliant red is a powerful sensation in its own right. And the shapes of things, the colors of many things, the lines that the mind describes around things are all sources of the most powerful fascination.
The Red Cloth and the Big Bouquet of Flowers is a pastel painting on sanded paper measuring 18 x 24 inches.
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!
The little red house is surrounded by green. A young rabbit visits the garden, a garden that lies just beyond these steps. Young, he cavorts in the garden, running round in circles after tasting vegetables. Along the window sills, birds alight. They peer into the shade of the interior. Spiders build their webs in the crevices.
The yard opens to sky. Arching clouds lift up over the borders of this place, and build up moisture made structures that catch our gaze. A bird startles and flies, and his flight carries your attention up toward these mountainous clouds as to another world.
Yet it’s my backyard, and these clouds live above it, part of the real estate. When I sell this house someday, I will tell them: it comes with these magnificent clouds and we won’t even charge you extra.
Sometimes I use a computer to get ideas, as here where a collage of images has been alterred in lots of fun ways. I use things like this as sources from which to draw and paint. It’s then that I fiddle around with the image using my own computer (the one between my ears).