Archive for October 7th, 2009

High WindowsAfter working on the large painting whose progress I have been chronicling, I moved back to a few pieces that were incomplete and needed the final touches to come alive.  This is one , a fairly large canvas measuring 30″ by 40″, painted in the same obsessionist manner as my recent work.  This piece has a lot of things working for it- the way all of the landscape elements converge at the center, the pull of the alternating rows of the field, etc.

But the sky is the obvious star of this painting is the vivid sky.  It has a real glow in the studio and my eye is always pulled to it.  It is just calling for one’s attention.  The sky is intentionally comprised of built up layers of colorful daubs of paint.  I wanted the sky to have that appearance of the sky coming apart, separating into individual lights sources.  The result is a really active sky, full of movement, that is a dynamic backdrop for the quietness of the landscape below.

As I was finishing it, I began thinking of the colorful daubs of color in the painting as being stained glass windows, kind of suspended in the sky.  That reminded me of the poem, High Windows, from the late British poet Philip Larkin.  It’s an interesting poem, one that seems full of cynicism at first glance, almost rejoicing in the loss of reverence in the world.  But the last few lines have the cynic dissolving into a sort of new awe and  reverence for the immense unknown, which are symbolized to him by high windows.  That is the same immense unknown I see in the sky of this painting, which is now titled High Windows.

Anyway, here is the poem from Larkin.  I’m also enclosing a video that has the voice of Larkin reading his poem.  It’s always interesting to hear the author’s reading of the words, his rhythm and cadence.  Gives you more of an idea of his aim in writing the piece.  Hope it works for you…

High Windows

When I see a couple of kids

And guess he’s fucking her and she’s

Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,

I know this is paradise

Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives–

Bonds and gestures pushed to one side

Like an outdated combine harvester,

And everyone young going down the long slide

To happiness, endlessly. I wonder if

Anyone looked at me, forty years back,

And thought, That’ll be the life;

No God any more, or sweating in the dark

About hell and that, or having to hide

What you think of the priest. He

And his lot will all go down the long slide

Like free bloody birds. And immediately

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:

The sun-comprehending glass,

And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows

Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.

—Philip Larkin

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