Spring Landscape #26 Maple, 24"x18", oil on panel
Spring Landscape #28 Yellow, Green, Blue, 24"x18", oil on panel*
Landscape is an accessible subject, "pedestrian" as I said before. Critics chasing new media art might say it is "done to death". That leaves me an outsider to artists trying to dig up rules to break, which is ironically mainstream. What a pain in the neck. I like it all, as long as it's good. Neil Diamond's popular song, Sweet Caroline.
I sang it with the rest of the stadium at a recent Rhode Island Pawsox game. It seems to be a baseball favorite, thanks to production agent Amy Tobey who arranged for its play during the eighth inning at every Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Diamond performed it live (click to see) there April fourth, opening day. Inspired by Caroline Kennedy in 1969, it has nothing to do with baseball. Everyone knows the words, even the very young as sung by a boy in his car seat on America's Funniest Home Videos, the "buh, buh, buh" enthusiastically belted out. It reached number four on the Billboard Charts way back when, not number one and here it is ingrained in our culture in 2010. I shouldn't like it. I like alternative rock. I like classical music. I like jazz. I shouldn't like it but I do. I love it. Why? It's sentimental, romantic, nostalgic, descriptions to be shunned in art like the plague but I have a feeling that I shouldn't publicly admit that landscape painting draws people along the same lines. Diamond even sings about spring turning into summer, touch, emotions in the seasons. It's simple but it speaks to us. Lyrics:
"Was in the spring
And spring became the summer
Who'd have believed you'd come along
Hands, touchin hands
Good times never seemed so good"
I'm in a quagmire now, talking about my art and Neil Diamond in the same sentence. [Gawd, few painters get so many fans.] He has passion. My paintings aren't passionless. They're not geographical maps. They're not documentary photographs. They are trees, sky, and heart translated into paint. Buh, buh, buh.
*More on these paintings:
These are the last of the spring landscapes for the season as I move on to summer. They show two different approaches. The paintings have parallel intentions.
#26 defines areas of color: yellow-green grass, green trees, purple maple, gray and white sky. Those generalities are broken down or rather expanded within the areas and are simultaneously harmonized within the whole painting. The tree is symbolically like a human figure, strong and solid as the sky (larger world) keeps changing.
#27 is a tracking of space. There is a plotting, pinpointed by dots, in a line of sight that takes us up to the sky. The first thing to step over is the turquoise picnic table reduced to a triangle, painted thinly; the contrast in paint handling is unexpected. It is the cornerstone of the painting, weighted at the bottom. At the same time it is luminous and it seems as though one is turning a page of a book, one landscape picture peeling back to reveal some other image. I can't describe the something that happens in the painting between the layered dots, only that it takes a pedestrian subject to a deep experience. Don't dismiss it with a label, with a fleeting assessment, because there is more there. Everything I write about my work in this blog beseeches the viewer to look longer, to stretch the mind. This is in the work, this is the process of that work.
#28 is lighter. Ebullient, upper circles suggest leaves. They carry us along. The larger circles on the bottom are stamps (not literally), louder proclamations of the same idea. The tree divides the space, dark and denser than the red-brown stretch of paint that also means "tree" on the right. The blue and green have a playful dialogue. The yellow is in between, making for an analogous color scheme, a short-hand fitting the graphic nature of the picture. The temperature is cool with the blue and yellow both warmer than the green. The dark tree has purple and black tones to complement the lightened yellow dots. #28 is bold in its statement while #27 is strong as well but thoughtful and tender in a slower way.