graceful metaphors and symbols assembled in a bunch to be admired and examined

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I put some of my feelings into a bundle arranged in different colors, placed them into a glass of cool fresh water, set them upon the table, then stood and gazed at them to begin learning who I am and what I want.

The two paintings separated by slightly over twenty years are similar.  The subjects are essentially the same.  A vase of flowers sits on the table.  Surrounding each bouquet are light airy background colors.  Whatever you see is there because I put it there.  I arranged the flowers and then painted them.  How the two works differ reveals not only what I learned in the intervening years, it reveals differences in the way I think in past and present.  We know it doesn’t reveal anything about the flowers because the flowers don’t change.

What’s the difference between a white background and a pale blue one?  What about the introduction of blue and orange together — those chromatic opposites — what is the meaning of that?  Or the emotional effect?  How does it make you feel to look at a bunch of daisies sitting on a table?  What are the connotations of daisies.  They mean something different from roses.  Why?  Nature has given them radically different forms. The rose has depths.  One remembers so many different experiences of flowers by smelling them, holding them, watching them grow, by receiving or giving them as gifts.

Do the details take you deeper into the feelings?  Are the details more elaborate emotional landscapes?  Shouldn’t we bring things closer for inspection? Closer is more.

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These things that reveal our lives to us are so important.  For me it’s art, for others, it is something else.  Give some thought to the things that connect you to your past and to who you are inside.

Even seeing the differences when you’re the spectator tells something about the two image ideas. The differences in your feelings when you look at different scenes can tell you much about yourself if you watch and listen to the thoughts and feelings.

 

 

crowded ensemble of flowers

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Now the blue cloth has an ochre colored, hand thrown, North Carolina pottery vase sitting on its pale, cheerful color against a white wall and the bouquet has grown enormous.  Daisies, carnations, chrysanthemums and lilacs are all massed together.  And the green leaves of the lilac provide a leafy accent to the big assembly of flowers.

I recall that when I began doing the large bouquets, like this one, my chief concern was how I would ever paint so many flowers in the short time allotted for alla prima painting. It was no use trying to paint them the next day because they all shifted and fidgeted as the hours passed.

But somehow I seemed to have gotten them all into the picture.  Let me tell you, though, the pressure was on ….

 

daisy bouquet

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I painted the flowers in simple patterns, graphic in character — really more a way of drawing with color than of painting.  But the jar (actually a drinking glass) packed tightly with the flower’s stems attracted much of my attention.  I was consciously emulating the late flower paintings of Edouard Manet, one of which is in the National Gallery of Art in Washington and which I knew well.  I was aware of his other late flower paintings from books.

The white iris, however, that is still Van Gogh’s teaching.  My teachers were the Impressionist painters and Van Gogh.

They were good teachers.

crystalline clarity

It was a favorite glass, and I took flowers from the yard along with some we had purchased and plopped them into the glass of water.  Put it on a white cloth.  And I painted it.

I had to “reconstruct” the tip of the green fond that bends over on the left because (when I wasn’t looking) the cat jumped up and chewed the end off of it.

The Red Cloth & the Big Bouquet of Flowers

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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.