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Archive for November, 2014

WhiteWedgeYellow
The colors are subdued, these creams and ochers, even the red seems saturated and calm. But the brushstrokes are energetic, the feeling of turbulence being enhanced by the white’s rift into what seems to be a landscape. Well, not so quick with that interpretation! True, there’s a horizontal line and that WhiteWedgeYellowAnalysistriggers the association to landscape. But that light upward strip on the upper left (green arrows) destroys that illusion. That strip is actually quite powerful in the composition. It not only subverts the illusion of landscape, it creates tension by virtue of its thinness and thereby moves the eye to the upper left. Without it, the “white turbulent rift” just right off middle would dominate mercilessly and demand some literal interpretation. As is, the viewer’s mind sees form and that’s a good place to be. Thanks be to modernism.
Painting by Arlene Tarpey, ~16×20, acrylic.
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Nov2014
Yes, it’s all rectangles and squares. What an interesting challenge! Wherever you look, it’s all 90° and you think this should look stable and fixed. Not so. It’s all motion and speed. How do you make a painting consisting of right angles so lively?! Try to look away. Gotcha!

Our visual apparatus evolved to detect motion. Frogs can only see what moves. If you don’t want to be associated with frogs in your family tree, try to remember what it’s like to sit in a train while reading. It’s hard, because your eyes are attracted to the blur and motion at the window. Maybe a painting that simulates the effect of motion holds our attention for the same reason. But this painting does not illustrate motion.
Let’s look at an illustration of motion.

HorsesBeachHere we have a specific instance, a narrative of motion. Horses and riders on a beach can evoke the memory of a beach, the smell of the ocean, the energy of young men and the power of horses. Notice that all these are specific memories and as such they’re limited and limiting.
In the painting,  our experience is deeper. Without a narrative as a hook and employing a most restrained composition, it moves us to introspect on how perception itself works.  We have to ask how this is possible.  And that’s endlessly fascinating.
Painting by Maria Palacios, 30×40. Oil on canvas.
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KVishnyRed
For the artist, the pleasure and challenge of painting. For the viewer, the pleasure and desire to look. This painting doesn’t leave you alone, you keep associating colors and traveling along the bumpy edges. Just look, for example, how the bits of green keep moving your eye through this painting, even though the red is dominant. (There are splashes of green in the black field, but the camera didn’t pick them up, unfortunately.)
Painting by Keren Vishny, 40×30. Acrylic on canvas
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HaroldSwoive
It’s not quite white, has some grayish texture. But we’ll call it white because it’s so dramatic against the blue. This painting started as a landscape and got more and more geometrical and crisp. The white swirl is pure invention. Brilliant. If this were painted much larger it would be brrrrilllllianttttt.
Painting by Harold Bauer, ~20×16. Oil on canvas.
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CassyBlue
This painting started with dripping paint, not with any plans to create a landscape. But the line where the blue stops suggests a horizon and then with that reference, the drips can be interpreted as a row of receding trees. The dash of orange suggested itself because as the complementary color to blue, it would heighten the intensity of the blue. So, yes, it can be seen as a landscape with mountains, trees and possibly a sunrise. And it’s paint. Paint! It’s both. But because your mind can’t focus on both at the same time, it goes into overdrive and that gives you a high. That’s the high of modernism. Aren’t we lucky!!
Painting by Cassandra Buccellato, oil on canvas, 36×36.
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MaggyStillLifeCrop
Round shapes tend to feel comforting and harmonious. But when they’re cropped they move right up to our eyeballs and they become conflicting: harmonious by virtue of the roundness, but also in your face and a little too close for comfort. The black disc at right, representing the bottom of a reclining pot, becomes ominous. This is a good effect in a work of art. We don’t want to be complacent and sweet.
MaggyStillLifeWholeIn the full view of the drawing we get the comfortable view. Oh, look, some pots, well drawn and easily identified. The zig-zag at right indicated drapery in a playful sort of way. Uncropped, this is a fine drawing, but cropped (above) it’s dramatic and, in my sensibility, more powerful.

Drawing by Maggy Shell, charcoal pencil.

(Images in this blog have shown up pixilated lately.To be fixed.)
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BarbaraStillLife
It’s a privilege to look at this drawing. It’s exquisite in the purest sense, serene and composed. There’s no excess, no fussing, no posturing or wrangling for effect. It seems to have flown out of the artist’s hand.
Notice that the center pot is not shaded while the flanking two pots are shaded. The center pot is large and holds its own by virtue of contour alone. If it were shaded, it would be too heavy and insistent; it would dominate the drawing as if didn’t want to get along and it would have too much pull, too much weight. As is, it’s big and still harmonious. How did the artist make this decision, to lighten up in the middle? Did we have a lecture about this, a statement of principle, before the drawing started? No, not at all. This sort of thing happens when you’re focused on the drawing, without critical chatter in your brain, in a purely visual mode. You can’t force this. It’s a state that can occur after a couple of hours of drawing. It happens. Drawing comes from drawing.

(Drawing by Barbara Heaton, graphite)
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