Archive for March 6th, 2012

 With the recent release of The Lorax, an animated film based on the environmentally centered Dr. Seuss book and the continued popularity of his books (I think there are 6 in the top 100 of the NY Times bestsellers list), I thought I would reblog this post from back in August of 2010. 

Yesterday’s post about the 50th anniversary of Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss made me think about a piece that I’ve had hanging around my studio for the past decade. It’s a painting that I did in 2001 that I call Red, Hot and Blue. It’s an oil on panel piece that is pretty big, almost 5 1/2′ tall in its frame. It could be a small door. It showed in a few galleries after it was first painted and never found a home so it retired to my studio, to keep me company.

I mention it because it was been called the “Dr. Seuss painting” by several people who saw it when it was hanging in the galleries. They saw something in the way the trees were shaped and colored that gave them the appearance of a Seuss character. I had no thought of Seuss when I painted the piece but when I heard these comments I began to see it.

The expressive sway of the trees as though they were dancing. The bright primary colors- the red of the foliage and the bright blue of the trunk. Even the two trees in the background added to the Seuss-y feel.

The foliage actually looked like the endangered Truffala trees from Seuss’ cautionary fable about the environment, The Lorax.

It was not intended but it made sense. Seuss’ books were about communicating by giving strange creatures and things we often see as objects, such as trees and flowers, human qualities. His characters moved with a rhythm that made them feel alive. Just what I was trying to do with my painting. I’ve often felt that we best see and better understand things that possess human qualitities. I remember being taught that the Native American tribes in the area where I grew up gave names to local hills based on the human qualities they had. It made an impression and started me looking for the human form in all things.

The curve of a tree trunk. The roll of the land. The fingers of clouds in the sky.

To communicate.

So, while it was never intentional, this painting was very much a product of the influence of Dr. Seuss and others. When I look at it today, I don’t see the name I gave it. I see it as that “Dr. Seuss painting”.

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