Overlapping Rhythms

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We cannot ignore the small flicker of a candle in a darkened room or the motions of a distant headlights in the night. Small light shapes pop against darkened backgrounds. They are the break-spots, the anomalies that steal all our attention, the jewels in the crown.  Bright shapes jump in front of the darkened field, unless a darkened form crosses their path and overlaps them. From before Titian through today this principle enriches and informs paintings.  This principle reinforces our sense of reality when applied within a painting.

When overlapping contrasting shapes are arranged in rhythmic but, non-repetitive sequences they offer a feeling movement, of music. My first example is a watercolor by Andrew Wyeth which is followed by another watercolor (also late 20th century) by James Weidle.  Wyeth’s watercolor contrasts light shapes over a darkened field while Weidle’s watercolor contrasts dark shapes over a field of light forms. (Examples 1 and 2).

Example 1. Andrew Wyeth watercolor,

Example 2. James Weidle watercolor (1982),

Using these same principles I constructed two similar paintings. All the following examples were painted alla prima, painted at one setting.  The first example (examples 3 and 4) is laid over a white enameled laminated aluminum. The second is an over-painting laid upon an old street scene (examples 5 and 6). Observe how the more massive shapes both rhyme and refute one another.  Observe how the arrangement of the grass fronds further reinforces the rhythmic sequence and a feeling of movement as well as coalesce to keep the viewer within the picture frame.

Example 3. Step one of Autumn Grass, with translucent oils,

Example 4. Step two of Autumn Grass,

Example 5. Step one (opaque painting over city scene),

Example 6. Step two (opaque painting over city scene) unfinished,

There will be a step three for the opaque painting but, I must let the painting dry before applying more color or, I risk muddying the colors.

My last example presents a wintery view of London. I manipulated the painting to reinforce the feeling of an iconic atmospheric London reminiscent to me of Charles Dickens, Peter Pan, and Sherlock Holmes. It’s quite a sentimental stew in which I worked to avoid saccharin.  I bet you also detect my homage to Monet’s, Whistler’s and Turner’s misty images of London here. (example 7) Here the rhythmic effects are created by my arrangements of architectural features as opposed to the earlier curvelinear flora.

Example 7. London on brushed silver enameled aluminum,

I invite you to join me this April 20-23, 2017 (Thursday through Sunday) the Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach sponsors of workshop with me; two days on location and two days in the studio. Call Sara Bass at 904-280-0614 x 204 or register at www.ccpvb.org/programs/adult/adult-workshops .


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