June 12, 2012

A New Painting: "Pyramid"

Pyramid, egg tempera on calfskin parchment, 6 3/8 x 5 1/2 in.

When I started this painting I had to make a full stop and ask myself "why am I doing this?" Not why am I painting, but why this specific image: what was there about it that interested me? Looking at the finished painting it seems clear; it's the black form of the indented pyramid catching light in every narrowing steps. 

 Pyramid, first version

It was when I first began working on the version above that the questions began. If it was the black form that most drew my attention, why include so much other stuff that didn't seem to add anything to the conversation? The composition as it was seemed static and dull. So I cropped the image closer,  focusing attention on the black form, creating more tension with the edges. I think it has enough complexity and energy to carry the painting, with a supporting cast of blue bent cylinder and flat planes. Do you agree?

Pyramid, detail

I really enjoyed working on this painting, developing the turning form, the light moving across the surfaces, finding the color in black. For me, and I believe for most painters, the final image isn't all that motivates us; it is also the sensuous engagement with brush and paint on a surface.


  1. It is almost anthropomorphic in its stance. I seem to have a dignity in the way the light strikes it. I always love your compositions, Altoon.

  2. it's such a solid little entity the way you've painted it & i love the somber colors. if it were placed next to one with a lot of, say, pink - quite a conversation would ensue...

  3. Thanks so much, Dee and rappel, for your positive comments. It's interesting that you both use serious terms such as "dignity" and "somber". It didn't feel that way as I was working on it, because of the blues and because of the interesting form, but I suppose that insistent black object can't help but be serious.

  4. A very interesting shape with the triangles of cast light, and I like your decision to simplify the information to feature the shape more.