So I got out the acrylics and changed things. That was interesting. I'm not sure I like the results, but it was different. I prefer the brightness of the watercolors - acrylics are more matte and dull in comparison, I believe that can be helped with mediums, which can add some shine or translucency, but I needed the opaque capabilities of the acrylics, in particular. I still feel like portions of the painting are too raw, and the colors don't all play well together.
I feel I did help resolve some things in this version, but I still can't promise not to just cut this one up for parts. I think there are several promising little compositions within this one - the most obvious being this one... But I'll put it away and think about it again later. Comments are welcome at this point.
Then I got out the line drawing for the Mount Greylock painting, and opened the photograph the Cunning Runt sent me. He posted it earlier on his blog - here - and I commented that I'd like to paint it, which led him to send me a larger version. So here is my first pass - watercolor only, and a literal interpretation. I may go on to do some other passes at this, taking more license, and getting more into the composition isolated from the content - but I can't commit the artist child to anything that serious. If it happens, it happens.
I have had two other dialogues which have set the stage for painting into 2009. One was an e-mail exchange with Linda of Vulture Peak Muse, in which I finally answered the question a college painting professor asked me: "What do you want to paint." It just came out in the e-mail conversation and only after I typed it did I realize it was the answer to that question. "I want to paint the inside of my heart." I do not know what this means - but I do know it's true.
The other conversation has been in a series of comments on a Piet Mondrian post over at The Pagan Sphinx. During the course of those comments (I quote some excerpts below) I discovered that several artists produce abstracts that sing or speak, to me, and I want to see if I can produce anything that does the same thing.
Excerpts from my comments, and I added some illustrations - see the entire conversation and post here >>>>>>>>
"I was just thinking, after my e-mail, that what isn't obvious about Mondrian is how emotional the completely abstract final works are. He was always painting something interior, I think - or his emotional response to something. In some cases it may have just been his own response to the bars and colored zones on the canvas, but these are ALL about his feelings. The final piece you posted caused me a sharp intake of breath and then laughter because there is no bar bridging the center of the canvas! The intake was a visceral reaction to the piece, the laughter was when I realized what an abstract language it really is, and that I have no idea what it might mean! It's like hearing a recording of something in a foreign language and understanding none of the words, and not even getting the emotional content, but being able to tell there's lots of emotion there. Am I making any sense?"
I can see what you mean about it being easier to see the emotions when there is some evidence of the artist's movements, like in a Pollock, or a deKooning. But I can hear emotions just in spacing and lines and colors and shapes - even if they seem dispassionately rendered. That's what I'm hearing in Mondrian's works, I think, though I can't make out the words. Am I making any sense? I don't see/hear it in all abstract work, but I sure do in many Mondrians, and I do in Diebenkorn, as well. Not Albers, though. Ordinary objects do this to me, as well, but then it's usually just noise. Sometimes it's pleasant noise, but it's accidental and not words. I recall a stand of cypress trees in VA that I could hardly be dragged away from because they sang - it was the way they were spaced, and I think it was mostly accidental, though part of whay I couldn't tear myself ways was that I kept looking to see if I could see human intention. Like the word "love" that seems to emerge in the tarnish on a copper roof - is it really a word? I'd keep looking to see if I could detect the hand of someone, so I could know if someone WROTE a word there, or if I was, indeed, just seeing pictures in clouds, so to speak. I did that with those cypresses. Then again, sometimes I see an arrangement of objects by certain very talented people I know, and I hear the words or the music clearly, and they seem to, as well. And it's not just about being pleasing or not - the tolerance points are stretched or played with in ways that vibrate and push at the mind and make words..."
"I can't speak it, usually, though a few of my pieces come close, and one or two say a word or two (Sunny Hillside has some parts that speak quietly - I think it's why it's been in my office at work longer than any other piece - I've swapped the other frame three times since then) - but I can hear it when a master speaks it."
"I looked at the painting again and I got all worked up all over again. I'm not sure emotions is the right word, exactly... Maybe I should say that he FELT these - they're not just mathematical. It sends shivers up my spine to see things like the exact widths of the three vertical sections, and the way the horizontals all correspond across the gap, but the left hand, shorter bars are so much fatter (up and down) than the ones on the right... And that gap, with nothing bridging it. It's like a precipice, and it gives me a pleasant kind of vertigo to see it. He's speaking a language or making a music of the tensions in shapes."
"If it weren't for the odds being so stacked (so MANY Mondrians, for instance, speak to me - and several other artists do this, too) I'd think I were imagining it. But I know I'm not. I'm just tuned in to some frequency most people don't pick up. Or they just see it, while I see AND hear it. Or something like that."
"Robert Motherwell does it, too. In the National Gallery in DC there is a large Motherwell, visible from a number of places in the huge space. I wandered around the spaces, dragging my youngest with me, gaping at it while it sang and sang and sang. Morris Louis does it, too."
"Henry Moore almost does it. I have looked at dozens of his pieces, and they seem ABOUT to say something, but then they don't quite. When I had first found his work, in my late teens, and I had not yet found any of the others I now love, I kept coming back over and over to his work, trying to get it to fully satisfy me, and it never could quite. I still love much of his work... but actually I find, in general, that sculpture doesn't lift me the way paintings do."