Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Winter Dreams

This painting had been growing in my mind since we got the comforter out for the winter. Sleeping under it, the light of the moon through the windows and trees outside, the dreams - all have contributed. Click for a larger image. You can also see this painting and others on my art website.

The photo shows more contrast between the black trees/window-slats and the blue background. In the painting the sky is darker and the black doesn't stand out so much (cameras love black). So the original is more integrated.

It's us in the bed - but...

They're not portraits - and my dear lovely girl puts all that long blond hair in a braid for safe keeping while she sleeps. And the painting is not about us, though that's how I started my thinking. It was originally our dreams - but now I'm not so sure. The cats seem to have taken over, and the painting is certainly about them, their dreams. Certainly cats having fun in the snow would have to be a dream.

Our cats are not allowed upstairs at all, much less on the bed - and they're ginger tabbies (the paper lanterns have the only gingers in this painting - the rest are all solid colors, mostly black).

We would never put the bed against a big bay window - we'd arrange the entire room to be able to look out all of it, not cover any up with furniture. We do have four windows in our bedroom, we had them add extra when they built it, but the only bay is in the living room.

I never sleep on my stomach.

Other things about this painting:

It contains 19 cats (if you include the Chinese character for cat on the Japanese paper lantern - I probably should have used Japanese characters, but I like the Chinese in this case).

The small lantern with Mount Fuji is the only non-cat lantern subject, and it's by way of an apology of sorts for the "oops" above, and homage to the print makers and lantern makers who inspired some of this image.

The steeple is inspired by several different steeples, plus the onion domes so common in the Hundertwasser paintings I've been ogling before bed just about every night for the last two months.

The cats playing in the street (leaping from the doorway) have appeared before (in mirror image) in Solar Power.


Alex M. said...

Details of the piece keep popping out at me every time I look away and back. Eventually, I found myself turning away just so I could look back and find something new. First it was the subtle silhouettes in the lanterns, (I love the way they move from moon shaped to lantern shaped as my eye moves across the page.) Then the morphing of the quilt into snow into cats, the ribbon of hair that blends into a waft of smoke... So many small revelations, each one bringing the thrill of discovery and a small sense of satisfaction. (Like finding the piece of a jigsaw puzzle that fits exactly where you thought it would.)

Steve Emery said...

Wow, Alex - thanks for the detailed comment. I'm glad you enjoyed this piece, and the transitions in it. The layout took over three quarters of the total time, and was a long, slow discovery. The sleepers and the quilt came first. Then the quilt kept growing a few squares at a time over days. Then the first house roof in the snow appeared, and things got more interesting from there. I don't recall when I realized I wanted lanterns in the sky above the snowy village, but that led to research and more thinking about placement, themes, cats... Mostly the cats just overran this. Having some yourself, I think you probably understand that.