Archive for December 26th, 2010

Well, it’s the day after Christmas and I’m trying to clear my palette from the holiday and get ready for the new year.  Not the holiday but the actual year 2011.  I’m starting to really begin to think about moving in new directions, even in a subtle fashion.  I’ve talked before about how this change is important to me and how it keeps me excited in the work.

Sometimes this new direction comes in the form of new compositions or a differing use of the materials at my disposal.  Sometimes in entails visiting past work or influences and seeing how they interpret at this point in time.  The same composition painted at different times often brings surprisingly different results.  Maybe my color palette is different at one time versus the other or maybe my emotional state is different, which has a huge effect on my work.

As for past influences, sometimes the time that has passed allows me to see different aspects of the painting I’m looking at and take this aspect into my own work.  The painting I’m showing today is an example of a past influence that I have used.  It’s Death on the Ridge Road from the great Grant Wood in 1935.  I love this painting.  It has so many aspects to ponder and take from.

When I first used this as an influence, in this painting from 2001 on the right, I focused mainly on the movement in Wood’s painting.  The curve of the road and the shapes and positions of the vehicles hurtling at one another, along with the lean of the telephone pole at the top of the hill set against the moving sky, all give this piece a sense of motion and action.

At the time, I wanted my painting to carry that same sense of movement as I felt in Wood’s piece but in an even simpler composition, without the drama of the vehicles potentially crashing together.  In my painting the road and motion in the leaves of the tree carry the action aspect.  It very much a different piece, compositionally and emotionally than the Wood painting.  At that time, when I painted this, that was what I took mainly from the Wood painting.  Now, I might focus on other aspects and create work that is quite different than what I first pulled from this influence.  For instance, today I might want to pull something from his shadowing at the bottom of the painting, something I actually have used in a number of paintings over the years.  Or the symbolic aspect of that lower telephone pole and the way it creates an almost shadow-like effect of a cross on the hillside.  That is filled with possibility.

So I will spend the next several weeks taking some time to look at past work of my and work from those I consider influences, such as Grant Wood, and hopefully something new will merge.  At least, a newer version of my work with a new facet.  We shall see.

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