Monday, March 02, 2009



Going from dark to light...
I have been painting in oil on canvas for more than a year - not long in the natural scheme of things, but long enough for me to have changed my initial rigid compulsive style.

I started with the tangible concept of Time - something that has bugged me for more than half a century, and which grew more tangible, more visible and more insistent after my cerebral vascular accident. The first three paintings I tried were direct visual representations of this, and I have them - framed and a constant reminder of where I started - on my studio wall.

I like them very much. (That's "Present" "Future" and "Past", left to right. If you click on any of the pictures here, you will get enlargements.)

They look almost monochromatic, don't they? I knew absolutely nothing about pigments, oils, paints, thinners, glazes, gesso, impasto, or anything else at the time. I just knew I had to paint these things and I had to do it right then.

The next paintings - still the same subject - were more complex in visualization and execution. You can see how deep they are, how layered and dark. I think I have painted about twenty in this style. (I have to collect 10 of them from local galleries this week.)

That's "Chinese New Year" on the left and "Untitled" on the right.

Today's paintings are a bit different.

They are still the Same Old Thing: visual representations of my concept of Time in its many forms, but I have discovered the lighter side of it, at least a lighter side, a side that is less about two hundred coats of thinned down black oil and glaze medium and more about reducing the conceptualization to a purer, lighter and more simple form.

See how the basic shape that defines my concept remains. (Untitled work in progress)

Here's another sample - different, eh? ("Blue #3")

I wonder what makes this compulsion evolve. I know pretty much where the compulsive behavior comes from, why it is that I feel pressed to make these paintings, no matter what (that's no matter that I don't know how, or have any time, or any history, or any rational reason.) But I can't figure out why it changes.

I have a painting hanging at Sugar Rush Cafe & Gallery right now - "Before the Moment" - and although it was painted horizontally, the gallery owner, Obie, has hung it vertically. He knows I paint in a mirror sometimes, or work on a piece sideways. But I always know which side is up. I think.

My brother who lives in Arizona visited me this past week and commented on the change. He thought the lighter colors reflected a lighter spirit, that they were less dark, therefore less unhappy. But I don't think that's it at all - there is no happy-unhappy to them, just as time itself does not reflect that sort of emotion. They may evoke emotion in a viewer, but to me they are more energy than emotion, more urgency than happiness. The lightness isn't happy-lightness; it's more transparency-lightness, I think. But what do I know - I just know which side is up. I think.


large yellow cymbidiums

The orchids are blooming. I grow cymbidiums on the patio and they are the usual February-March profusion of flowers in lovely cascading sprays.

pink cymbidiums

yellow cascading cymbidiums with red lips

The little "plumicot" tree out in the kennel is covered in tiny pink blossoms - the promise of delicious fruit this summer.

The weather calls for more light rain this week - but I heard there were sixteen inches of snow somewhere back east. My weather - even with rain - is a beautiful thing. It's all relative, isn't it?

Be careful out there.


Usiku (oo-SEE-koo) said...

This is an interesting concept and representation of time. The circle is prevalent but there also seems to be inner cores that go on beyond our perception. The first three paintings hung together have a nice lingering effect.
The beauty of art is what it is able to elicit from each of us.
For me, knowing what I'm doing when I'm writing is a constant threat to interfering with the spiritual influence of art.

Kate Thornton said...

Thank you, Usiku - great to hear from you, too! I read your poetry sometimes and see conceptual visualizations in it - maybe not what you intended, but we all have different ways of seeing things.