Black Across Red, egg tempera on calfskin parchment, 6 1/2 x 8 in.
Like the painting I completed just before this one, Facing Green, Black Across Red is mainly flat colored planes facing us, in light and in shadow. There is an addition of a black tubular shape crossing the surface, which lessens the ambiguity of scale that is part of the previous work. The solid geometry of both is similar, though, as is their mood. I began to ponder this question of feeling the past couple of days, as I've been working on my next painting, one of my folded cloth still lives, which seems to me to have a different quality from this. All my paintings are moving closer to abstraction, moving farther from a "real" source, identifiable as objects out in the world.
So, where are the differences? is mood/feeling the same as meaning? When I look at my most recent paintings, I see a forcefulness, a weighty seriousness, an almost somber quality, even with the sunlight. I have done paintings that exhibit some humor––and that little blue square in Facing Green has a little smile to it––but basically I think there is a calm toughness. Some of this, of course, comes from my precision, which pins everything down in place, and also from the severe frontality.
Untitled (Orange, Pink), egg tempera on calfskin parchment, 7 1/2 x 6 in.
But I am using the same technique, or style, in my other still life paintings, and to me they have a different mood, one approaching poignancy. While the machine images seem solidly present and invulnerable, a work like this seems tender and provisional. There is something about a folded surface that seems to evoke this feeling for me. As to how much the feeling inherent in a work determines its meaning, I think it is only a part adding to a whole; formal qualities can also shift meaning: matters of color, shape, space, composition, all play a part. And of course, each of us senses mood differently; you may completely disagree with my reading of my own work, which is fine and also interesting to me. After all, once a work goes out into the world, it is on its own, and open to interpretation.