It is impossible to paint something like this without reference to Matisse. Still I think one can evoke Matisse while being fully oneself, idiosyncratic and contemporary. It’s also quite possible to find a little El Greco in one’s desire to make an image like this one. I like conversing visually with old painters translating their notions into my era’s slangy modern idiom.
This landscape is a retrospective glance. I first painted this motif many years ago, so many years ago I’ve lost track. However, this latter day version is quite different while simultaneously being quite the same as its older counterpart. It is as though one strolls through a landscape that one has known all one’s life. But then isn’t painting always like that?
Sometimes I think that I am just painting one picture. It is merely the seasons that change.
Taking walks at night has sometimes provided my summer form of exercise. The heat of day has dissipated. City crowds have dispersed. A few lingerers provide a companionable backdrop without interfering with one’s desire for solitude. Appearances change. The shadows of evening going into night, added to a city’s desire for constant illumination, make for interesting contrasts. Trees usually lit from above in the sun’s brilliance are lit from below or from other odd angles, which makes for unexpected shadows and textures.
This painting arose from memories of walks I used to take when my daughter was little. Some evenings I was able to slip away for a brief interlude of exercise and quiet thinking while she slept and was watched by others. We have some enormous old trees in the city and I had a favorite which back then I sometimes drew. Revisiting it now in memory adds something also, a touch of nostalgia and meaning that comes with the passage of time. Reflection and reverie have changed the tree from a real one into a dream with branches.
While on the topic of spiders, I should mention that I like to insert them into pictures (when they fit). Here’s one that crawled into a children’s mural. She is named Charlotte, just like the spider in the famous book by E. B. White. And I can happily report she was based upon an actual spider that we (the child and I) found somewhere out in the garden, captured and photographed. Afterwards, she was released back into the wild, and thus no spiders were injured (only temporarily inconvenienced) for the making of this painting.
It’s not quite the same thing as Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s painting, but I’m fiddling around with the idea of abstraction that is just lines and shapes (maybe later on just lines and dots) and that is still koi. A koi dreamings. Richard Diebenkorn meets Joan Mitchell and Emily Kame Kngwarreye and they meet Jennifer Bartlett. Everyone, of course, tips their hat to Georges Seurat — let’s not forget him. Come visit my store on CafePress!
[Top of the post: A Computerized Dreamtime (Altjeringa) by Aletha Kuschan]
All this talk of fish is making Alice hungry. She has a violin lesson right now, but after that … she said she’s getting some fish!
These fish are vying to reach the center. Something’s going on there. Others of them swim around this activity, not participants exactly, yet aware in waves of concentric bustle.
Oddly enough, this used to be a painting of a mountain. Now it’s fish. The mountain just wasn’t working out. An artistic real estate transaction needed to take place. The mountain moved out. Fish moved in.
[Top of the post: A Study of Koi Swimming, by Aletha Kuschan, acrylic on canvas]
This guy was determined to swim in the stars. Call him the “fish that got away.” Big time! He wanted to be a cosmic fish. Pisces. The night is his ocean. His stream is the Milky Way. (Got milk?)
[Top of the post: Crayon drawing of a fish photographed on a black enamel surface with speckles, by Aletha Kuschan]
My fish want to feel they’re important. Of course, they are to me. But they want to belong in the larger scheme of things. I try to assure them they are as significant as one could wish. Still they are skeptical. So, I’ve played around with the image trying to evoke the night of space, and put them into the cosmos more emphatically.
They want to swim out into the stars. (Didn’t Disney do that as a short film?) Maybe my fish have seen the movie? Everybody wants to be a movie star these days ….
[Top of the post: Computer enhanced version of one of the koi paintings, by Aletha Kuschan]
This sketch for a painting is more about night (and squares) than about fish. (It’s a sketch for a painting.) But, lo and behold, the fish snuck in. I count five, maybe six along the bottom. This is hardly more than a scribble, but I love this. If somebody calls me on the phone and takes up a whole bunch of my time … friends … this is what’s taking place on my side of the conversation.
[Top of the page: Study for a painting, by Aletha Kuschan, ballpoint pen]
Ever since discovering, by golly, that our computer had photo collage software on it (who knew?), I’ve played around with images by combining things on the computer and then altering them via the computer’s many interesting graphic features. This “fishwave” is one result. A photo of a heavy drapery is blended with some pictures of koi swimming and all that has been run through the washer on the permanent press cycle until it looked as you see it above. Sometimes I paint from images like this that I’ve created on computer. After they become paintings, they can be photographed and rerun through the same computerized process again to be transformed into something else. Metamorphosis.
Then, too, there’s the computer between the ears with which we can attempt daring things.