Friday, January 1, 2016

New Work: Transcontinental; A Question!

image size 12' x 16" painted papers on wc paper
The above piece is based on a paper sketch that I did during December. It had seemed as if I had finished several pieces that had nearly become too fiddley-too many little shapes trying to compensate for a design that needed to be firmed up in an overall way (rather than overcompensated for). The paper sketch was an effort to simplify and I really liked the results. Doing a larger finished piece made sense and so I started in on this one earlier this week. I just wanted to use shapes and colors that I like but when Rich walked in to the studio he said that he saw trains and mountains and wheels. So, then I got into that idea and Transcontinental was born!

I'll mention that I had some surprise results. In the lower left corner where the white "wheels" are, I originally had that greenish blue directly up against that reddish orange. I couldn't believe the way the two colors optically resonated! It was nearly painful to look at and it certainly was distracting. The white wheels were intended to tone that down. I also learned about attaching shapes and the "weight" that can be created. That black half circle on the right side was originally just hanging there with no lines attaching it to the light green rectangle. It looked fine but then I started to see railroad tracks! I also felt like I wanted to create movement upwards and somehow support the weight of the shape. So, I added those black vertical lines which turned out to work well I think. And lastly, I added the orange circle in the far right corner as another balance to the vibrating red and green-sort of a less chromatic complimentary color combo.  

I mention all of this not to show that I am clever or something but just to illustrate the point that painting and designing are active things. The process is really one of question and answer. And I am going to say this. I am wary of any artistic person who says that they know exactly what they are doing-that there are no unanswered questions, that they could make art in their sleep or that there is no uncharted territory. Bull*&^%!

OK, I said it. And now, I have a question for anyone interested. That red/green optical resonance thing made me consider something. I like the colors that I put together but have I been missing something? I wonder if my mixes and placements of color have just been off the mark all along or if I have unconsciously (or consciously) mixed color and placed it to avoid anything too harsh. I guess my question is about conscious versus unconscious intent and maybe even skill level. If anyone has any thoughts let me know.

OK, thanks for reading and commenting. I hope the New Year is off to a good start for everyone.


  1. Dear Libby - I feel such warmth coming from this work. I am very attracted to the orange that you used in this piece. The title is very fitting. Your hubby has great ideas and I do see trains within this piece. For me your color scheme makes Transcontinental exceptionally moving. It is amazing how your instincts intuitively move you in such a meaningful direction. Thank you as always for sharing your art. Hope you have a wonderful new year.

    1. Debbie,

      What a lovely comment! Thank you. The orange color isn't one that I would have chosen but as I worked with it I really began to like it. And I just love it with the blues and greens and even the more yellow orange. It seemed to fit also with the train idea which I also grew to love. Good thing Rich walked into the studio right? LOL:)

      Thank you as always for your visit and comments. It means a lot!

  2. Very striking and the design certainly fits with "every quarter being different."
    I personally love the beautiful transitions of blues and green in your light areas.
    I laughed at your opinion of artists who don't falter on their prescribed path. I am like you - change with the flow of the painting, but I teach some who prepare their plan and then follow exactly all the way through. Engineer types maybe? It works for them. They seem to have the gift of being able to have a vision of their finished work before the start.
    They like that vision and go for it. Funnily enough... It just occurred to me that they have all been water media painters.
    I like Debbie's comment and agree with her.

    1. Julie,

      Thank you as always! I had a good time doing this one but certainly switched gears a number of times! The red and green next to each other was really amazing. I hit just the right two colors but it was too much. So, I learned a lot. And yes, no two quarters are the same but I do hope they all work together. I realized belatedly that I sort of divided the paper like that but thought it could be OK. No matchey matchey!:):):)

      Watercolor would be tough if you didn't plot some stuff out to begin with. But, I bet there is a way that watercolorists are more reactionary, can switch gears, and learn as they go.

      I am wondering if you have an opinion (I bet you do!) on older artists who seem stuck in their ways. I am really interested with how people continue to learn and grow as they age and that includes artists who have a "been there, done that" kind of approach. I don't expect people to reinvent the wheel each time but what about approaching things with some humility and an open mind? Do you get to a point artistically where you have seen it all and there is nothing left to learn?

      Hope you are well and staying warm. No snow here but cold for us. In the 30's and 40's. Brrrrr!



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