Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Speak up.

These images always reproduce with such lackluster surface here, no matter how much I try to compensate by hiking up contrast etc. Here's the latest phase of a new painting, and I'm eager to hear opinions. I am trying to limit the palette significantly because I feel like there's a disconnect in previous efforts between the nature of what I'm showing and the color relationships embedded in the imagery. So this one is a volcano, and the volcano and everything around it is affected by the essence of volcanoes—heat.

These are paintings of volcanoes. On two occasions, people have failed to see the subject matter and this is a little unnerving.

Someone recently remarked that my work is somewhat dark. I think that in some ways that's a welcome description, since I have been struggling to grow more accepting of my propensity for cartoonish form and a little darkness may compensate for what could tip the scales toward frivolity. I don't know if it's my relatively primitive method of painting, the manifestation of impulses that shouldn't be denied or something else, but I feel like I need some clarity about the way I am painting. 


rich said...

when i squint my eyes, all i see is the same grey scale. maybe you need to push some areas back and pull out other parts in the painting (like around the mouth of the volcano.) there's not an area in the painting where my eye is drawn to - like a starting point where then i can go to look at the dark smoke or the lava, or the volcano itself, or the area on the left, or the background. they all seem equal - that or they're equally competing with each other and it bothers me. Heat implies a light source... and intense heat, i imagine, would have a light source that is so bright, you're not able to look at it for too long without hurting your eyes.

push and pull

(this coming from someone who has not painted in over three years. i feel like a first grader telling a college english professor how to write.)

on another note, I really like the finished painting you posted on oct 12.

The Mute American said...

Bless you Rich.

Of course it's not finished and the hierarchy is something I generally try to perfect later, but the issues you mention are always so challenging for me. I alternate between splashy theatricality and chromatic lethargy and it drives me crazy. said...

Two comments:
Form: when I look at these paintings, the form of the lava stream is dominant. It appears that the lava is a form that is bending over, almost penile. So the image is reading backwards to me: it appears to source from the darker, wider base, and reach up and over to the mountain form, which is so subdued that it doesn't read as a volcano, the source. As Rich implies, a volcanic explosion is a narrative; i think you have to create a hierarchy that creates an understanding about bulging earth, spewing fire, and belching gas/smoke.

Inspiration: I saw an exhibit in New York this weekend that juxtaposed two unlikely gallery-mates: Mark Rothko and Ammo Phillips, and I think there may be something in the comparison that could be useful for you. See and read

I think this is a line of imagery worth pursuing. The fact that it's difficult and challenging just means you're on your way to a breakthrough.

Also, take a look at Martin Ramirez (also from NY!). His mountain and tunnels really reminded me of your lines. Maybe it would be helpful to back out of the color and examine the structures of your forms again.

Don't give up!