Colors and the patterns that hold them are highly associative. Colors are freighted with meaning from “seeing RED” to “I see a patch of red” can signal a vast range of emotion. The associative power of color can be personal as well. Some particular memory may find a color triggering a seductive or alienating feeling.
Patterns can remake the emotional feeling of a color through re-contextualizing. Patterns can weave colors into a new roles or identities. But patterns too have associative biases. Just seeing a stained glass window (example 1) can trigger a feeling of religiosity which an artist can either exploit or undermine.
Example 1. Stained Glass window from 1140 Chapel of St Denis Peregrinus made for the Abbot Suger.
Borrowing art historical precedents (from stained glass, jewelry, or paintings) can aid an artist in redefining the meanings of older art forms, colors and patterns. When Paul Klee borrows the palette of 12th century stained glass and mutates the decorative patterning found in such a window then, he gives us a new opportunity to redefine our experience with stained glass windows (example 2).
Example 2. Painting by Paul Klee earlier in the 20th century.
I also borrow and mutate the historical decorative patterning of stained glass windows. I recreate the sensation with a patchwork of translucent color using oil paint on brushed silver laminated aluminum (examples 3 and 4). Like Klee I remove overt religious ties by selecting a secular motif from nature. I arrange my shapes, colors and contrasts in self-referencing and rhyming patterns just as the 12th century stained glass window.
Example 3. Step one, Skimming October, oil on brushed silver laminated aluminum, 36×36.
Example 4. Step two, Skimming October,
My borrowings can also reach into other art forms and periods such as Dutch 17th still life painting (example 5) with its reliance on a dark background to pop its bright floral shapes.
Example 5. Jan Davidsz De Heem, 1660, Festoon of Fruits and Flowers.
I can also look to the floating merging color patterns of Pierre Bonnard from the earlier 20th century (example 6).
Example 6, Pierre Bonnard, Landscape earlier in the 20th century,
Here I find ideas for my color shapes to swim around one another in a swirling color field (examples 7 and 8). In addition to Bonnard I took a note from Monet and his use of analogous color harmonies. I relied on the close harmony of yellows, golden greens and blue greens.
Example 7. Step one, September Windfall, oil on brushed silver Omegabond.
Example 8. Step two, September Windfall, 36×36, after adding more light,
In contrast, I employed the color contrasts prescribed in Ogden Rood’s influential “Modern Chromatics”, an influence on neo-impressionists like Van Gogh and Gauguin (see example 8 with its contrasting bright yellows versus ultramarine blue).
Example 8. Ultramarine Blue interlaced with a broken ribbon of Yellows, “September Lineup” oil on brushed silver Omegabond, and 24×24.
If you find yourself near Sharon or Lakeville Connecticut then please visit the White Gallery in Lakeville, Connecticut, 342 Main Street. The exhibition is titled “David Dunlop’s Electric Cities”. Friday through Sunday Noon-4pm, 860 1029, thewhitegalleryart.com