Playing with Color

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I suppose all of us have different missions in mind for ourselves.  For a very long time (30 years!)  I was involved with nature restoration efforts.  I did everything from teaching and leading workshops to cutting down brush and helping collect and spread seed.  Naturally, I assumed my art should reflect that passion.  I thought that if I showed people the nature that was present right here, where they live, they would want to go out into it and want to protect it.  What I found was, I couldn’t change anyone’s mind.  And my paintings mostly went unsold.  Why, I wondered?  I began to suspect it was the way I was painting. I was failing to connect with people.  My paintings had become dry and predictable, with not enough of me in them.

Then a debilitating illness came along and I found myself sidelined.  Even short walks became quite painful, so I’ve had a lot of time to reflect.  What, I asked myself, drew me to painting in the first place?  COLOR! Oh yes, I remember 5 year old me sitting on the lawn drawing a robin, so maybe a naturalist in the making.  But mostly, it was color.  How I lusted over those BIG boxes of crayons.  You know the ones~ with rows and rows of colors, and a sharpener on the side?  Delicious.

For the past year or so I’ve been wanting to change how and what I do, but not sure exactly what that was going to look like.  I think, with this one, I’m getting close. I can feel something inside loosening up, like a muscle that has been clenched for too long.  “Oh yeah”, my inner child exults.  This is why I paint.  I still maybe want to switch to oils, but I really like how I can layer in squiggles of color like this with acrylics.  I simply wait a few minutes for a layer to dry, and then try a new color on top of it.  If I put all of the colors on at once they would turn to mud.

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Can hang-gliding be far behind? …actually, yes. I don’t like heights.

14 Comments

  1. The first second I saw this painting, it struck me that it was done in a much more free style than you’ve displayed here before. I like the quiet table-and-chairs, with all that color and celebratory action going on, like a ticker tape parade, just the other side of the brick wall.
    But that said, I liked the previous paintings, and wouldn’t call them dry, maybe just more restrained. Maybe start with zip-lining, on your way to jumping off a cliff in a hang-glider!

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  2. Thank you so much, Robert. I like those table and chairs, too. I saw them on the trip I took to North and South Carolina. I found the whole area so poetical and inspiring, with its large old trees and buildings aging together into mossy comfort. We didn’t linger at that table, but I wanted to.

    I love what you said about the background being like a ticker tape parade! You captured it perfectly, what I was trying to convey.

    You’re right…a zip -line would be FUN. A friend of mind did that when she went on a trip to Mexico. I’ve always thought that would be a cool thing to do. Have you done it?

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      1. Yeah, that is a nice one. Not the inspiration for this painting, however. When the painting was done I realized that it looked a lot like several of the Impressionists, but getting to that I took a completely different path. I’m almost sorry it looks so much like an Impressionist painting, but nevertheless I’m still pleased with it.

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  3. One of the great truths of life is that, once a painting, or poem, or photograph goes out into the wild, there’s no way to control how people will respond to it: what they’ll see, or how they’ll interpret it. In my case, the interaction between writer and reader can be unpredictable. Sometimes people’s reactions are in accord with my intention, and sometimes what I see as THE MAIN POINT isn’t even mentioned.

    In truth, I see that as a positive. It’s an indication of what I like to call a ‘surplus of meaning.’ There always is something more to be seen. Every reader or gallery-goer brings their own experience to an encounter with art, and it’s in the encounter that the work comes alive.

    I didn’t think of Paris or Hassan when I saw this, but of Louisiana. Despite the absence of Spanish moss in the painting, I had the impression that it was hanging around.

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  4. Yes! It was from a wonderful day in Charleston. I think. Or at least, in that area. There was definitely Spanish moss hanging around, which I will be showing in upcoming paintings. On my easel right now is a painting inspired by a photo I took of a house lurking behind an enormous hedge, with the garden gate left invitingly open. We went to Middleton Garden on that trip, and saw alligators loitering in the famed butterfly lakes. I found the live oaks, with there streamers of Spanish moss, absolutely mesmerizing. If only I could take the heat, I’d live there for sure.

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