By the 15th century stained glass artists like Antonio da Pisa experimented with lighter colors in glass with complex patterns (example 1). They wanted more light to illuminate church interiors. Earlier Mosaic artists had used reflective ceramics and polished semi-precious stones to cast reflected light. Even in smaller objects like reliquaries and ornamented book covers artists used reflective materials in intricate patterns to give the sensation that the object radiated its own light (example 2). Here, the 11th Century book cover has the inscription, LUX MUNDI, meaning light of the world. The choice of the reflective materials supported the theme of giving light.
Since antiquity, artists had used the pictorial arrangements of enamels, semi-precious stones, polished gold and silver to create radiant effects (example 3). The cloisonné example from 625 CE from Suffolk, England has been restored to reveal its original luster and colored patterns.
Traditions stretching back thousands of years across Europe and the Middle East demonstrate varieties of vine and serpent curling, interwoven patterns creating complex opportunities to place bright bits of stone, mosaic, glass, and jewels in strategically designed interstitial spaces. This pattern building extended to functional ceramics, fabrics, and carvings. Contemporary artists like El Anatsui of Ghana extended and re-imagined these traditions using the found detritus of bottle caps, copper wire and tin cans (example 4).
Other artists used these techniques and patterning ideas in painting and photography. Earlier in the 20th century Georgia O’Keeffe arranged designs in paintings which reminded her of quilt patterns from childhood. In example 5 you see how she places the spots of blue sky between lyrical branches as if she were working in stained glass.
In the mid 20th century Nicolas de Stael excised the standard floral information in this Flower still-life (example 6) and placed jewel-like colors along the edges of the forms treating the piece as if he were making abstract jewelry.
Example 7 presents my nature photograph with heightened colors. The arrangement of patterns of gemlike colors surrounding a luminous center is taken from principles of jewelry design.
Borrowing principles of the flat pattern repetitions of wallpaper I began the flower painting in example 8. The limited colors, the flattened tonal effects and the mark-making were all designed to give an impression flowers in stylized repetition. In Example 9 I added more atmospheric effects by blending and blurring edges. I retained the cloisonné idea of high-contrast jewelry patterns at this stage. The later blurring suggests motion and atmosphere while the patterning of flora behind the flowers suggests the intertwining patterns found in decorative jewelry, carpets, and other ornamented materials. Example 10 offers another example of using cloisonné patterns with sharp, isolated, color contrasts.
The next work is presented in two steps again. The first step (example 11) demonstrates the beginning of a scene along one of Milwaukee’s Canals with its variety of grass plantings and rows of bridges. The second step (example12) demonstrates how I invested threads of color in overlapping patterns suggestive of jewel like effects in the grasses before the bridges.
The principle behind the patterns of the counterpoint rectangles which you saw in the previous stained-glass window example, the jeweled book cover, and El Anatsui’s metal curtain were reworked and re-imagined in my last example #13. Here is a shoreline and sea grass landscape constructed with an eye to the abstract patterns described above. Rectilinear shapes subdivide and cross the surface acting as a unifying matrix for the colors and textures.
This November I have a series of workshops at Jerry’s Art of the Carolinas in Raleigh Durham, N.C. from Friday November 11 through Sunday November 13th. The Friday workshop, 9 am to 4 pm, “Painting Reflections in Glass, Water and Other Surfaces”. The Saturday workshop is also 9am to 4 pm “New Trends: Merging Paint the Digital Photography”. The Sunday workshop, 9 am to 4 pm “Abstracting Nature, from Meadows to Flora”. To register call: 800 827 8478 ext 156. These
The three different workshops are described on this website under classes and workshops.
I have an exhibition of my work at the White Gallery in Lakeville, Ct at 342 Main Street. Friday through Sunday 11-5 PM. 860 435-1029. thewhitegalleryart.com