After Kidnapping, Fear Spreads

After news reports of the kidnapping of an Australian poem, held for an enormous ransom (the story broke at poet Gabrielle Bryden’s blog), my koi are refusing to come to the surface of the pond.  Moreover, they are refusing to be painted.  Efforts to paint them, thus far, produce only pale grisaille images of very ephemeral koi.  These “ghost” kois have hidden themselves behind the veil of anti-art out of fear that they might also be kidnapped and held for ransom.

Well, that — and the spreading rumor that I was going to begin a series of Blue Heron paintings ….

However do these rumors get started ???

multi-colored “grisaille”

I accidentally bought more white paint than I need.  And now I’ve decided that my mistake was a boon.  I’m adding lots of white to all the colors in the underpainting and producing a kind of multicolored grisaille when I do a lay-in on the koi paintings.  The lighter colors are kind of pretty in their own right:  I’m wondering if sometime I should do a few “grisaille” koi paintings.  But for now these tints form the substrate for a full colored painting that will go on top.

The grisaille is exceedingly useful.  First off, it is very forgiving.  Let’s say that a koi has to be nudged over a little from this spot to that one.  Because the principle colors of these pictures — blue and orange — are optically opposite, over-painting between the colors gets tricky.  But a grisaille takes the edge off painting with opposites.  If the paints are still wet when I make the changes, then the areas where they unavoidably mix just turn to nice shades of pale grey.  And once it’s all dried, ’tis an easy matter to paint over a pale orange with a full blue, or paint a full orange over a pale blue, and not have the oppositions of color impose their tyrannies.

Of course, if you like the tyranny, there’s always still the option of letting blue and orange go to war — later on — if that’s what rocks your mind.  Either way, the delicacy of the initial pale colors lets all kinds of possibilities erupt — anything from the most delicate diplomacy to full-scale color war.  Meanwhile, the koi seem to enjoy this adventure in paleness.  They like it so much that they’re thinking of turning themselves into metaphors.

Above is one of the little scribbly drawings I make to put myself in koi painting mood.

Some of my past koi paintings and drawing are assembled HERE.   Some of these works have also prompted my discovery of whimsical and philosophical ideas, some of those are available HERE.

Shade loving flowers

I have a still life going, but I can’t show it here yet.  These flowers are very shy, too shy to expose to light.  They are shade-loving flowers.  I make a grisaille of them using only black, white and Naples yellow.  Later there will be colors.  But I begin with a drawing-in-paint.  It’s a bit like this pencil drawing above, which I copied from Jan Bruegal — like this in hints of gold and silver though my flowers have an entirely different personality.

The flowers are an alter-ego.  They symbolize the way of being in the center of one’s own life, and having put oneself into a vase, watered one’s feet, having sought nourishment from air, from gravity’s pull, from the sun, from the rain washing over one’s face.  You put yourself into a kind of stance, a spot, that frankly says “this is me.”  That part, though very strange to admit, is necessary for being human — this having to confront the world with this identity that each one has.  Here I am.  I am on display (somewhat) but more mysterious than anyone ever knows.  Mystery to oneself as well.  And each one is thus ….


A few years back, around the time I began this blog, I was painting honey jars.  One of the motifs I used back then has stuck in my memory, and lately I felt the urge to paint it again using the same image, but approaching it in a slightly different way.  So today I started a grisaille of a honey jar on a bright yellow plate in front of a cloth with a dark floral pattern.

How do I describe the thrill of repainting this idea?  Something about the dark flowers, their typography on this cloth that covers the table, bending the pattern of the flowers, making them almost animate.  The ways that lines appear by accident in the juxtaposition of elements.  The curves of flower shapes or the facet reflections of the honey glass, the changes in tonality in the viscous honey itself, as light passes through its depths, the bright yellow plate like a sun, like the sun that warmed the bees that made the honey that glows before night flowers.

Below is the earlier version, that whet my appetite.