Whenever I find myself going through images from the past several years, I inevitably find myself stopping when I come to this painting from back in early 2011. It is simply put and spare in nature but it just has a quietly commanding presence that draws me in. It was part of my 2012 show at the Fenimore Art Museum and I received many comments from people about this painting who were also struck by it. I thought I’d rerun the post from back in early 2011 where I wrote about this painting:
I call this painting Like Sugar In Water. It is a continuation of the group of paintings that I have been working on over the past few months and is by far the largest of the series at 36″ by 60″. The larger scale gives the piece a real sense of space and depth that I think carries the work.
This painting evolved in a much different way than I originally thought it might. As I started, I first saw this as being a piece about movement and saw a large tree bowing in the gusting wind with leaves being released out into the large space created by the sky, which had its own sense of motion in the brushwork. But as the sky came into being it changed and I found myself sensing a much different feel for this piece. It became quieter and the sky didn’t feel frantic but rather had a sense of light breaking into particles and quietly dissolving into a multitude of colors. Because of this change, the central figure in the painting, the tree, changed for me. It had to have a calmness but it had to have a different function than my typical red tree. Here I saw it as a connection between the landscape and the sky, like a conduit of energy from the earth upward. It would have to be less dominate than my typical red tree.
At this point I set this piece aside so that I could fully consider it. I really felt that the landscape and the sky were strong and could stand on their own but I wanted to make sure in my own mind. So I went to work on other work and kept an eye on this piece, continually looking at it and pondering what lay in store for it. Finally, after a couple of weeks, I decided it was time to let this painting complete its metamorphosis. I had come to see the tree as being bare of leaves with the branches stretching up into the sky, almost dissolving into the particles of the sky. This feeling of dissolving is carried through in this piece by the landscape as well. I see it in the road that runs through the structured geometric pattern of the field of the foreground, moving up through the spreading branches of the tree and into the breaking sky.
I see the red chair here, not as I often do as a symbol of memory or of the dead, but as a symbol of the temporary nature of our existence here, living as we do between the solidness of the earth beneath our feet and the particulate nature of the heavens above our heads. This is reflected in the title as well. Perhaps the universe is like a large body of water and we are but a bit of sugar.
I don’t know about that. But I do that I think that there is a lot to be found in this piece and I find myself pondering over it quite often, taking in whatever message there is in it.