Recomposing The Canon

We speak the languages we are taught,  linguistically, acoustically, and artistically. We inherit forms of expression. When we are aware of those forms we are more capable of seeing other possibilities for expression. We better equipped to change or adjust inherited forms. For example, countless artists have borrowed the design of DaVinci’s Last Supper’s  for both  its form and its metaphorical capacities. DaVinci himself borrowed and improvised this form.  Example 1 is a video still from a work by Kudazanai Chiurai retooling DaVinci’s design.

Example 1. Kudazanai Chiurai, Video still, Lyeza,feb16,1,photography-video still,kudazanai Chiurai,video still,Iyeza,Zimbabwe

Here is another popular form (a landscape form) used by artists since the 17th century. Example 2 demonstrates Corot’s use of this form.  I outlined his design. Following Corot’s example are there my modifications of this design. Example 3, oil on anodized aluminum uses the form with modifications. I added a third central element. Corot had done this previously in his own works.  Example 4 began with a substrate of water color in yellow (top) and blue (bottom). Example 5 represents example 4 after an application of oil paint. This image also uses a third central element but, with a higher horizon.

Example 2, Diagramed Corot,feb16,1,corot, landscape

Example 3. My landscape after Corot,feb16,1,meadow, creek bend, oil on anodized aluminum,36x36

Example 4. Step one, Watercolor Substrate.feb16,1,stonebridge snowy banks step one watercolor prep

Example 5. Step two, after applying oils.feb16,1,stonebridge, snowy banks final, oil on anodized aluminum,24x24

Example 6 uses a simpler version with a mountain on the left which assumes the framing role of Corot’s trees. I included design lines in this latest version of the painting. The block of framing trees on the right remains. This painting began by over-painting an older image. You can see traces of that original image in example 6b which here represents step one of the painting. Example 6a presents the original photograph with a superimposed design (white lines) to better exploit Corot’s design. Notice that my design lines introduce a different structure than the photograph provided.  I disregarded shapes given in the photograph and superimposed my own.

Example 6a. modified original photograph.feb16,1,adams gulch stream5a

Example 6b.Step one of the painting.feb16,1,meadow, marsh bend,step one

Example 6. Step two of the painting.feb16,1,meadow, marsh bend, oil on aluminum,36x36

I invite you to join me in my workshop “Painting Reflections on Water, Glass and  More” at the Silvermine Art Center in New Canaan, Ct. on Saturday March 12. Call 203 966 6668 ext 2  to register or visit to learn more.


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Recombinant Media and Heat In Winter

Our 21st century challenge is how to combine materials, tools, and other artists to reveal new visions and new forms. With vast access to metals, laminates, fabrics, catalogs of pigments and tools from armies of printers, to libraries of software, to new hand-tools, artists have a superabundance of opportunity. To exploit this expanding mine of materials, tools, and sources artists must share their process and their discoveries. From entrepreneurs to scientists we are often reticent to share. We want the payday and fame for ourselves. This constrains the path of discovery.

Recombining media and using a theme packed with contradiction like, “Finding Heat in Winter” I turned to a collaborative painting made by Max Dunlop and me (example 1). I superimposed one of Max’s photos on the image (Example 2). Next, this combined painting and photo was elongated and glued to a sheet of aluminum (example 3). While generating the combined photo and painting I intensified the warm tones. In the final step, the combined image was re-covered in a bath of warm dark paint.  After brush, finger and squeegee manipulations you can see the result in example 4.

Example 1. Collaborative Painting,48×48, on anodized aluminum.jan16,25,NYC Street Music, oil on anodized aluminum, 48x48, collaboration of Max and David

Example 2. Painting with superimposed Railyard photo.jan16,25,m and d collaboration with photo

Example 3. New elongated version glued to aluminum,18×18.jan16,25,Tracks and Bridges, oil and mixed media on aluminum,18x18

Example 4. Repainted (Recombinant) image,18×18.jan16,25,mixed media, Max and David, oil paint and archival pigment on aluminum,18x18

We always look for a single category to place a percept, Man or Woman, Big or Small, Black or White. Ambiguity allows us to flip between categorizations but, we  only hold one percept at a time even if we flip quickly. When I combined a black and white marsh photo with a color  photo of  pond ripples I created a new singular if confusing image (example 5). This combination image was glued to a surface of another painting with portions of that painting still revealed.  I applied more paint to the entire surface and found a new image, warm and cool (example 6). Example 6 relies on the unifying effects of atmospheric perspective.

Example 5. Combination photo.jan16,25,shoreline collage, layered

Example 6. Photos and Paintings combined.jan16,25,mixed media, shorelines in oil and archival pigment, 18x18

Continuing to turn up the heat on winter meant pushing the complementary color harmony of oranges, reds and blues.  While in New Orleans this January I found the sculpture garden attached to the New Orleans Museum of Art. The Garden held a meandering pond whose surface reflections offered  contrasting color harmonies of heat amidst cool.  I pushed the colors with software then, pushed them further with paint. Here are two examples of the floating cohabitation of hot and cool, dark and light  (examples 5 and 6).  Both are on white enameled anodized aluminum.

Example 5. Cold and hot reflections I,jan16,25,winter reflections and textures, oilon anodized aluminum,36x36

Example 6. Cold and hot reflections II,jan16,25,winter water matters, oil on anodized aluminum,24x24

I leave you now with a simpler effort. Paint on white enameled anodized aluminum. Here is winter generated with reds, oranges, pinks and ultramarine blue.

Example 7. Step one, warm lay-in.jan16,25,winter,forest fog step one

Example 8. Step two, Warm Winter Fog.jan16,25,winter forest fog, oil on anodized aluminum, 24x24

I invite you to my lecture, “Cameras, Computers and Paint”, a history of our evolution through pictures and technology this coming Sunday, January 31 at 4:30 at The Silvermine Art Center in New Canaan, Ct. Contact or call 203 966 6668 ext.2 for more information.



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Eye In The Sky

When we make maps we imagine a floor plan, a plot plan, a city plan, or even a global plan. Our point of view is directly overhead. If we tip our point of view a few degrees we get a combined side/overhead view. Before we could do this with Google satellite maps we did it first with measured imagination, then with cartographic projection using linear perspective and, later with the aid of aerial photography.  Artists bring their own  inventive exaggerations to aerial mapping hoping to heighten the feeling of space, drama, or induce vertigo.

In 1450 Peselino invented an aerial map by as he illustrated Dante’s “Triumph of Fame, Time and Eternity” (example 1).  His components such as ships are exaggerated in scale. Their presence helps signify the area of water.  Leonardo will do the same fifty years later as a poetic cartographer. We see his mountains from an elevated viewpoint with iconic city markers situated on their tops. The city/castles are exaggerated in scale to improve legibility and to serve as icons labeling locations (example 2).

Example 1. Peselino’s World Map, 1450.
Jan16,18,maps, Peselino,1450

Example 2. Leonardo’s map.

Flying in small plane I circled Block Island. Sitting beside the pilot I enjoyed a broad panorama. I shot with a wide-angle lens to help with expand spatial distortion. After feeding my shots into Photo Elements I applied further distortions. Later, I redesigned the image in quick sketches. Finally, I found an older painting of a pond (example 3) whose colors could serve as an exciting substrate for my aerial image.  I inverted this image. The light yellow area was now closer to the bottom instead of the top.

Example 3. Pond Painting to be inverted.
jan16,18,island,step 1a, underpainting.

Next, I  over-painted the inverted pond painting and blocked in my design (example 4). The left side of the image presents a foreshortened serpentine shape. The bottom of the image presents an advancing wedge shape because, I added a triangle of light to the lower right corner. Even at this earlier stage I used color recession. The colors and values at the front (bottom) are darker with more warmth. As the island’s colors ascend to the top they becomes paler and bluer.

In the next step, example 5 presents my  initial perspective elastic, grid-work which moves from larger bright shapes to smaller ones as they recede. The roads also snake back into space weaving between the progressively smaller and thinner field-shapes. In example 6 you see the image with  iconic house shapes, as well as the soft crenellated edges of dark tree lines. I further developed the transition from higher keyed color to muted pastels to amplify the feeling of a receding space.  I overlaid atmospheric perspective over the linear perspective foundation.

Example 4. Step one, Laying in the Image.
jan16,18,island,step 1,

Example 5. Applying the initial perspective grid.
jan16,18,island,step 2

Example 6. The image to date.
jan16,18,aerial,island after the rain, oil on canvas,34x36 oil on canvas,alt

I conclude with three aerial (Eye in the Sky) paintings. Each is highly dependent upon the converging vectors of linear perspective, color recession, dissolving edges, and atmospheric perspective. Each image is 36×36, oil on anodized aluminum. All three examples demonstrate multiple layers semi-opaque glazes.

Example 7.  West Side Stories, a Luminous Compilation.
jan16,18,aerial,west side stories, a luminous compilation, oilon anodized aluminum, 36x36

Example 8. Eye on Manhattan.
jan16,18,aerial,eye on manhattan, oil on anodized aluminum, 36x36

Example 9. Misty Manhattan Silhouette.
jan16,18,aerial,Misty Manhattan Silhouette, oil on anodized aluminum, 36x36

I invite you to “CAMERAS,COMPUTERS, and PAINTING; PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE,” my upcoming Sunday evening lecture at the Silvermine Art Center in New Canaan, Ct on January 31st at 4:30 PM.


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Playing In the Street

Let’s dial back to 1490. Italian landscapes were incidental backgrounds to  religious storylines. The moral authority and purpose of the painting was their sacred story. But, occupying the distance was a landscape with silhouetted cities and trees, meandering serpentine roads, and far off mountains. The sensation of plausible deep space generated by the landscape supported the credibility of the sacred story (see example 1, Martyrdom of St Lucy).  With a persuasive landscape behind her the miraculous absurdity of the knifed and roped St. Lucy effortlessly withstanding the pull of a team of oxen was more easily overlooked. Landscape painting eventually dismisses the sacred characters and refocuses on the pleasures of distant view. Within 150 years Dutch landscape painters could give their clients a view of deep space with a meandering road and a few diminutive wandering gypsies (see example 2, Jan Van Acken, 1650). The structure of the two landscapes is remarkably parallel despite their separation by time and geography.

Example 1.Bernardino Fungai, 1490.
jan16,11,italian,1490,siena,bernadino fungai, martyrdom of st lucy, tempera on wood

Example 2.Jan Van Aken, 1650,
jan16,11,dutch,1650,jan van aken,landscpae with gypsies

Artists found metaphorical substitutes for the traditional meandering roads or rivers as you see in this 1939 photograph by Edward Weston of the Golden Canyon in Death Valley (example 3). He discovered Golden Canyon’s weathered ridgelines offered the same meandering experience as with the road behind St Lucy.  You can trace the metamorphosis of  the hills of St Lucy’s and Van Acken’s landscape in the terrain photographed by Weston.  Within 25 years Diebenkorn and Thiebaud found the urban tangle of layered highways offered a fresh resource for meanderings into distance (example 4, Wayne Thiebaud landscape). Modern civil and structural highway engineering continues to cast a spell for artists. This modern subject engages the linear and curvilinear perspective skills of artists. The game is too difficult to resist. Emma Sutton tried her hand in 2005 on black prepared paper as you see in example 5.

Example 3. Edward Weston, 1939.
jan16,11,photography,1938,edward weston,death valley,golden canyon

Example 4. Wayne Thiebaud.
jan16,11,thiebaud, wayne, landscape with highways

Example 5. Emma Sutton, 2005.
jan16,11,emma sutton,2005 black prepared paper

Artists like Julie Mehrehtu and Regina Scully pursued the possibilities of meandering perspectives but, married them to modern abstraction. What do you get if you combine principles of linear perspective with abstraction? Initially we got Cubism, Analytic and Synthetic. Those rectilinear forms were too constrained for an artist like Regina Scully; the result is her 2015 acrylic “Cosmographia” (example 6). Scully takes the premise of a map’s information can be brought to  life through dancing distortions of perspective.

Example 6. Regina Scully,2015.
jan16,11, regina scully,2015,acrylic, cosmographia

As I journeyed through Providence, Rhode Island’s central city mall I found new engaging perspectives. Example 7 is my photo using a 360 degree app. on my Ipad.  Example 8 is my reconfigured and painted response to this image.

Example 7, Ipad 360 app photo.
jan16,11,panorama providence2

Example 8. Painting on anodized aluminum,12×36.
jan16,11,city,providence, entangled,oilon anodized aluminum, 12x36

I brought a meandering tangle of linear perspective closer to the ground plane in my painting of trolley tracks  from New Orleans (example 9). The opportunity for cursive entanglement grew from my layering the trolley tracks.

Example 9, Trolley tracks.
jan16,11,city,new orleans,canal street trollies

My last two examples (example 10 and 11) refer back to the Martyrdom of St Lucy. I returned to the idea of a road as foreground. I replaced the oxen with charging taxis. The characters are now anonymous, no St. Lucy or her persecutors. Architecture still flanks and frames the picture as it did in 1490. My colors are no less symbolic but their meaning has altered over time.

Example 10. Taxi Charge.
jan16,11,city,taxi charge, oilon anodized aluminum, 24x24

Example 11. Full Fare.
jan16,11,city,taxis at full fare,oil on anodized aluminum, 24x24

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Metamorphosis In December

Our worlds change. Our lives change. Our memories change. There are no constants. Painting can reflect and exploit opportunities revealed in changing appearances. The composer revisits his theme but, invests it with change to hold our attention. Redundancy does not sustain attention. Change does. But change can only be recognized in the context of repetition. Change offers contrast and, we attend to contrast.  We find contrast when it interrupts our expectation. Expectation is born out of patterns of regularity. My examples here demonstrate varying effects discovered by welcoming change.

I begin as I often do on woodland walk.  This December has brought days of fog to my area. As I crossed the West Branch of the Saugatuck River in the Stonebridge nature preserve the fog occasionally parted to reveal small pictures, vignettes. The photo in example 1 exemplifies one of those vignettes. I re-composed and altered the image in Photo Elements discovering another image (example 2). Here begins the variations on the theme. My theme rests upon the notion of a window on blurred space and, the contradictory feeling that greenery could thrive here in this cold December riparian woodland.

Example 1. Initial photo.
dec15,21december fog,step1,first photo

Example 2. Altered photo.
dec15,21december fog,step2,altered photo

My experiment proceeded with the idea  I could riff on an image and follow my riffing through an evolving series. All of the series would occur on a single surface (brushed silver anodized aluminum, 24×24).  Whenever I paused to enjoy a stage in the metamorphosis I stopped to photograph it. Each pause occurred to me as an independently engaging image. Sometimes the image took a less successful turn and in others it appeared more engaging.  Examples three, four, five and six present those stopping points. Image six is where the image has come to rest to date.

Example 3. First version, more monochromatic.
dec15,21december fog, step3a

Example 4. Second Version, more delineation.
dec15,21decembers fog,step4

Example 5. Third Version, more mystery.
dec15,21december fog, step5

Example 6. Fourth Version, more layered.
dec15,21december fog, oil on anodized aluminum, 24x24

I tried this process again but, on three different 48×48 panels. Each painting metamorphosed from  a previous incarnation. Here are the three different images as they appear to date. Their destiny is uncertain.

Example 7. Water Circles 1.
dec15,21water circles, decembers discovery, oil on anodized aluminum,48x48

Example 8. Water Circles 2.
dec15,21water circles,decembers galaxy, oilon anodized aluminum, 48x48

Example 9. Water Circles 3.
dec15,21water circles, spinning december, oil on anodized aluminum, 48x48

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Deep In December

December arrives here as it does in Paris and London, with tinted fog, bare trees, and horizontal light. Artists find  foggy days appealing for their obscuring ambiguity and  defused luminosity. 18th Century Dutch landscape painters found charm in winter. Sung Dynasty landscape painters found poetry in the tangle of bare trees and mountain mists. Artists find a clear winter day winter appealing with its graphic contrasts, bold edges, poetically denuded nature. I will first look back to winter renderings by artists from end of the 19th century. They include Whistler, Rockwell Kent and John Henry Twachtman.

Whistler’s poor eyesight welcomed the glare-free world of fog he observed in London to Venice.  Whistler subjects lay as hints and guesses on the surface of his canvas. Color has been reduced along with contrast and edge information (see example 1).  After experiencing the misty uncertainty of Whistler’s, Corot’s and George Inness’ works, American Impressionist, John Henry Twachtman infused complementary color effects into his subtle fog-obscured winter landscapes (example 2). He painted many of them near me on Horseshoe Creek in Greenwich, Connecticut. Example 3 is my foggy December riparian landscape. It too depends upon complementary color to invigorate the foggy mist.

Example 1. Whistler fog landscape, 1877
dec15,14,whistler,nocturne,trafalgar square,chelsea,snow,1877 oil on canvas

Example 2.Twachtman winter atmosphere,1907
dec15,14,twachtman,John Henry,1902,22x20,frozen brook

Example 3. Stonebridge in December Fog,
dec15,14,winter fog, oil on aluminum,18x18

You will soon notice that I begin my December landscapes with a similarly obscured indefiniteness but, I used higher contrasts. To demonstrate the graphic potential of winter’s clear light I have an example of Rockwell Kent’s Maine landscape of 1902 (example 4). Observe the design with its bright, canted threshold shape along the ground plane.  Observe the counterpointing dark coniferous area above the snowy threshold followed by another contrasting light mountain shape above that.  Kent subdivided into two areas the threshold light shape (snow).  The bottom brighter shape faintly shares the angle of the dark coniferous forest area above.  The paler triangle snow shape above forms a long triangle. This slow triangular shape is often used as the threshold shape in landscapes.  You can see it in examples 5 and 6 by Balthus. Notice how Balthus uses a similar design schema for both his paintings, one summer and one winter.  Balthus painted these 50 years after Rockwell Kent but, both artists borrowed from the same  older European traditions. Even Pieter Bruegel used this design schema. For example, Balthus reverses Bruegel’s painting of Hunters in The Snow of 1565 to paint example 6.

Example 4. Rockwell Kent
Dec15,14,kent,rockwell,1907,maine coast

Example 5. Balthus 1.
Dec15,14,balthus,paysage de champrovent,1945

Example 6. Balthus 2.
dec15,14,balthus,1979,paysage de monte cavello

In example 7 I reversed the direction of the threshold triangle and extended it far up the picture plane.  Like Balthus and Kent, I borrowed the use of graphic flattened planes from Renaissance frescoes. Balthus claimed that no artist was credentialed without familiarity with the works of  Piero Della Francesco and Giotto.

Example 8 provides an example of an even more graphic image. Here too, I  reversed the designs of Kent and Balthus. This image is mixed media with a photo-image as a substrate. The photo imagery is not related to the painting but, simply serves to offer itself as a resource for texture and color after it has been  revealed through deletions with a squeegee.

Example 7. Winter hillside shadows
dec15,14,winter shadows,oil on aluminum,18x18

Example 8. Winter Hill,mixed media.
dec15,14,winter slope, oil and mixed media on paper,13x13

I further altered the traditional composition used by Balthus in examples 9 and 10. I too relied on warm iron-oxide tones  and, the Italian Renaissance dependency on burnt sienna. My design presents a series of diagonal reverses in the upper horizon area.  I present this example in two steps.  First (example 9) offers the initial lay-in followed by example 10, the painting in its present state. Notice that example 9 has more ambiguity and glow but less edge clarity than in example 10.

Example 9. Step one of Winter Swale.
dec15,14,december swale,step one,

Example 10. Step two of Winter Swale.
dec15,14,winter swale,step two, oil on linen

My last example for December fog uses the foreshortened triangle of linear perspective to bring you into deeper space.  The distant foggy ambiguity infers infinite space. Contemporary life arrives with the glare of headlights. Example 11 presents the initial lay-in. Example 12 presents the image in an intermediate stage. Example 13 presents the image in its presents form.

Example 11. Step one, the lay-in
dec15,14,winter highway in fog,step one, oil on linen,18x18

Example 12. Step two.
dec15,14,winter highway in fog,step two, oil on linen,18x18

Example 13. Step 3, current state
dec15,14,winter highway in fog, oil on linen,18x18


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Happy Holidays from David!


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Finding Water

Reflection, translucence, movement, ambiguity, and shadows sliding between layers of space, these are opportunities sleeping in December’s water.  The detritus of autumn hides here.  The color temperature has chillier contrasts with less green and more blue and violet to contrast with the warm tones of submerged and fallen leaves.  Each season offers a new menu, a new palette, and new appearances. The Barberry leaves changed from July’s deep colors to November’s fuchsia to December’s faded parchment. They appear bright on the surface and paler under shallow water. These subjects are gentle suggestions for later abstraction.

The adventure begins as the artist becomes a traveler, a wanderer who happens upon visual mystery. We look around with no particular goal, only attention to what is present. If you like me carry a camera you find potential in these distracted moments. Example 1 is a photo of leaves on and below the surface of a December pond as I look into the sunlight. Example 2 is the same photo after I have explored other possibilities while wandering through Photoshop (or Photo Elements, or other software) just as I wandered through nature.

Example 1. Winter pond photo
dec15,8,merwin pond unaltered photo

Example 2.same photo altered
dec15,8,merwin meadows pond2a

Next I wander through the paint. I begin to distill the imagery, to further abstract it and to recompose it. The example 2 altered photo gives rise to the painting in example 6.  First, the action of  painting encourages me to reconsider my intentions, to try alternate directions and maybe alternative materials. For example, I varnish a photo of Mayan ceramics which I will use as a substrate for my winter water painting (see example 3).

I look for another opportunity and find a painting of shore grasses that does not satisfy me (example 4). I cover this image with colors and forms inspired from example 2. The resulting image can be seen in example 5.

Example 3. Mixed media image, 13×13
dec15,8,merwins pond surface magic, oil and mixed media on paper, 13x13

Example 4. Image to be rotated and overpainted, 24×24.
nov15,23,step three,shoreline Chromatics, oil on brushed silver anodizd aluminum, 24x24

Example 5. Overpainted rotated image.
dec15,8,merwins pond alchemy, oil on anodized aluminum,24x24

To increase the size of my next image I paint on a 48×48 3/8 inch sheet of PVC. Example 6 represents step one. I pause and consider my beginning. I feel there is not sufficient luminosity, ambiguity and texture variation in step one. I apply the changes shown Example 7 .  Now I present a more relaxed, textured, and luminous image than in example 6.

Example 6. Step one, 48×48
dec15,8,merwins pond patterns,step one

Example 7. Step two
Dec15,8,merwins pond patterns, oil on pvc, 48x48

I wish to show you another example of winter water with areas of both opacity and translucence. Example 8 represents a painting at a middle stage but far enough along to demonstrate qualities of movement, layering, opacity and translucence.

Example 8, 30×48 oil on white anodized aluminum
dec15,8,merwins pond, translucent undulations, oil on anodized aluminum, 36x48

Finally, I extend my invitation to you to register for painting classes with me at the Silvermine School of Art for the winter semester. Registration begins at 9 AM on December 9.  Classes begin in mid-January. Call the school at 203 966 6668 ext. 2 for a Tuesday or Wednesday class. Registration also begins for my week long intensive workshop to be held at the Silvermine School of Art in April.


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Play: Priceless and Freehand

Milton Glaser lamented the reliance on computer graphics because; it deprived designers of the use of uncertainty. Uncertainty or ambiguity are visual fields we create in order to discover the unanticipated ideas. Glaser experienced a pencil on paper as capable of nuanced touches as well as a generator of fuzzy uncertainty. Like Da Vinci he could exploit this uncertainty. He could mine it for ideas.  This fuzzy field allowed his brain opportunities for making new connections. It prevented him from working linearly, deductively. It saved him from driving his intentions straight toward a goal but instead, encouraged detours which fostered new ideas, new connections. Creativity really is about the journey (playtime) not the goal, not the product, not the destination.

The pencil or brush or finger on paper can variably adjust drag, push, rotate, tilt, accelerate, press and try many other touches which are only available through our hands. A relaxed and experienced hand lives in a feedback loop with the eyes and brain. The sensation of discovery arrives when the tool-in-hand moves freely, unselfconsciously exploring without slavish attachment to a goal.  When the hand can play with a tool without regard to the cost of any factor whether it is materials, morals, or time then, we experience purest creativity. New connections in the brain are made. New ideas surface. This phenomenon helps explain the value of sketching for artists, designers and architects. It explains the attraction of materials like pencil and paper or watercolors and paper. Cezanne and Turner both used watercolor sketches as experimental fields. The feeling of impermanence accompanied by the use of inexpensive materials allows the creator/inventor to risk failure. Play is a feeling of cost-free experimentation. Play allows randomness to reveal new connections. Play is a stimulus and catalyst for creative discovery.

Anna Kenoff, co-creator of Morpholio has written on this subject with the aim of giving notepads and ipads the same versatile freedom of exploration through touch like a pencil on paper. Of course it will be different. But, encouraging fields of play with new visual tools leads to creative discovery.

These past weeks I continued to play with a set of paintings considering the ambiguous visual fields found in glass reflections. In order to foster play and discovery I first painted an image with photo derivation. Later, I covered the paintings with dark color creating chaotic mystery.  I looked for the painting that lingered underneath the dark overlay but, discovered new and more ambiguous imagery. The covering layer of dark paint allowed me to muse, to dream. My dreaming occurred as I manipulated the bath of dark color, deleting it or pushing it or thinning it. A new image with greater ambiguity emerged. Example 1 shows how this process worked for me. Example 1 is the first step while example 2 is the second step, after I had bathed the picture in darkness and rediscovered its new form.

Example 1. Phase one.
nov15,30,city glass,square step1

Example 2. second step, or phase two.
nov15,30,city glass,square,step2

I have two more examples demonstrating the overlay of a confusing and obfuscating bath on paintings. Example 3 is the painting before its bath and, example 4 is the same image after its bath. Examples 5 and 6 present images after multiple dousings but, I am sorry I am unable to find any of their preliminary steps.

Example 3. Step one,
nov15,30,city,Glass On Madison, step one, oil on brushed silver anodized aluminum, 24x48

Example 4. Step two of the same image.
nov15,30,city,glass on Madison,step2,, wide Perspective, oil on anodized white aluminum, 24x48

Example 5. Looking Down Madison.
nov15,30,city,glass on Madison,step two,Deep Perspective, oil on anodized white aluminum, 24x36

Example 6. Looking Up Madison.
nov30,15,city,glass on madison, elastic perspective, oil on anodized aluminum,36x36


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Chromatic Mesh

Vincent Van Gogh let his brush strokes imitate the pen strokes of his sketches. He found an expressive vocabulary of marks to describe the wavering, windswept, leaning, curling, interwoven patterns of nature (example 1).  Layering and weaving nature’s strands of wheat, branches, flora and clouds is seductive challenge for artists. The attractions of nature’s complex textures expanded for artists in the 20th century.

I live near fields of sea grass along the Connecticut shore. Many artists here are seduced by the variety of light, texture, and motion offered by the shoreline grasses. Late 20th century expressionist Gabor Peterdi lived and painted these shores investing his sea grass with wind-dance motion presaged by Van Gogh in his pen and inks. Peterdi’s work (example 2) of the 1980s takes an abstract path unavailable to Van Gogh in 1890. Like Van Gogh, Peterdi explores chromatic complements but, with  greater distillation and design efficiency.

Example 1. Van Gogh fields.
nov15,23,van gogh,fields,1890

Example 2. Gabor Peterdi, Big Wetland.

Let’s begin with a couple of photographs of New England shorelines from Massachusetts to New York. Example 3 presents a black and white photo. I stripped away the color to allow me greater inventiveness with color. Example 4 is the painting that followed. I exaggerated the stand of grasses because, that’s where I found the maximum opportunity for texture, pattern and deep color contrasts. The image was painted on brushed silver anodized aluminum.

Example 3. Photo, Plum Island, Ma.
nov15,23,plum island,step one, photo ma7

Example 4. Painting.
nov15,23,shoreline pale horizons,oilo n brushed silver andoized aluminum,24x24

The next image begins closer to home along the Norwalk, Connecticut shore. These are the same wetlands investigated by Peterdi 30 years earlier. First, example 5 presents my photograph before manipulations in Photo Elements. Example 6 demonstrates both step one and two of the painting process. The right half shows my lay-in after some light texturing with a 4”brush and paper towel. The left half shows the second step after the application of squeegee marks excising areas of the lay-in. Example 7 presents the image in its present state after I applied opaque patches of pink and blue into some of the earlier excisions. I further overlaid vertical strands of more vivid color (light vermilion and citron yellow). The stronger reds occupy lower areas of the reeds. They transition into lighter yellows as they ascend into the sky. My color complements followed the standard set by physicists Herman Von Helmholtz and Ogden Rood in the late 19th century. Van Gogh had read and used their color advisories; a warm yellow  complements an ultramarine blue.  A Cyan blue best complements a Gamboge and notes of light vermillion.

Example 5. Photo of wetland.
nov15,23,step one,calf pasture photo

Example 6. Step one of wetland painting.
nov15,23,step two,calf pasture, oil on anodized brushed silver aluminum,24x24

Example 7.Present state of wetland painting.
nov15,23,step three,shoreline Chromatics, oil on brushed silver anodizd aluminum, 24x24

Finally, I came in closer for a more intimate horizon-free view of marsh grass (example 8). The color contrast here is strong and complementary and, again follows the advice of Helmholtz and Rood (see his book, “Modern Chromatics”).

Example 8. Nesting Chromatics,oil on white enamel anodized aluminum,36×36.
nov15,23,shoreline nesting chromatics, oil on white anodized aluminum, 36x36

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