Archive for February 15th, 2009

dsc_0343-smallIn a comment from yesterdays post (Out Into the Wide World) there was a comment from David Terrenoire  (his entertaining blog A Dark Planet can and should be reached from my links list) where he thought he liked the shown painting because there an implied narrative.

I think there is something to this comment  and I think it’s central to some of the attraction that my work may hold for some viewers.  I may have addressed this before so if this seems familiar, excuse me.  

Years ago, Cheri, my wife, described my paintings as blank sentences.  By that, she meant that I was giving context, some detail and a bit of direction but the actual narrative of the piece was left to be filled by the imagination of the viewer and the experiences that they brought with them.

I immediately sensed the truth of her words.  It also explained a few things.  My writing had always lacked narrative depth.  I was more concerned about creating mood and emotion with the words rather than the story construct.  As a result, most of my writing centered around describing silence, ephemeral moments and wide open spaces.  Pretty limited stuff and it left me feeling as though I were missing the mark somehow.

I wanted to create an environment where someone could see the things in my writing- silence, space and moment- but in a way where I was not filling in every detail.  The viewer would add an actual element to the painting.  The narrative of the piece might be implied but was only there if the viewer so wished.

Maybe I’m off-base here or maybe I’m blathering on in the artspeak that I so detest.  I just don’t know.

The piece above is a new painting tentatively titled  Above Canaltown.  This might be a good example of what I’m trying to say here.  For me, this very much about shapes, color and creating a certain emotional rhythm with the placement of the buildings, paths and canal.  However, I can see where there is room for narrative and I may have my own for this scene.  But if this piece is to succeed and have a life of its own, the sentence will be completed by someone other than me.

That okay with you, Dave?

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Out Into the Wide WorldThis is a new painting titled Out Into the Wide World.  It’s painted in the same manner as my Red Roof series, in a style that I call  obsessionism.

This piece uses some familiar icons that appear frequently in my work.  There is the path that winds through the scene and there is the ever present red tree, this time being wind blown.  The tree is often placed on a small mound that  lifts it above the surrounding landscape, giving it a sense of importance in this context.

In this particular painting, I see the red tree as a guide or mentor, indicating here that one must follow the path that lays before them and must get past the trees in the foreground which might obstruct the view ahead. I suppose this is really about keeping one’s focus on the bigger picture and not getting caught up in the smallness and pettiness of things which might prevent one from moving on in their path to growth.

Now, this is only an interpretation made after the fact of the actual painting.  I never intend such meaning or message beforehand and am never sure what will emerge.  Generally, when a painting succeeds visually it is fairly easy to read meaning into it.  The elements that create an effective painting for me- depth, texture, contrast, mood- are the very things that create thoughtful evaluation.  For me.

For others, it may (or may not) be just a pleasant  little picture and nothing more. And that is fine and equally correct.  That is the subjectiveness and beauty of art.

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