December 6, 2009

Light Tube

Light Tube, 2009, egg tempera on panel, 12 x 12 inches

When I began this painting, I thought it wouldn't be very appealing because of its limited color range, but it seems that its forms are very evocative and compelling to some readers; thank you for that. I like the strong dark shapes against the lighter ones, which move the eye from the sturdy posts on the lower left to the upper right black square. And then there are those entwining "limbs". This work plays with flat shape and volume, with the volume of the rusted pipe sitting on the edge of the painting, pushing against the picture plane.

In the detail above, you can perhaps see an odd visual quirk, that reminded me of Cezanne's paintings, where a line showing the edge of a table hops up or down as it goes behind an object. As the rusted pipe passes in back of the white tube, its edges seem to move, to not be aligned above and below. As I was working on this, I kept checking the outlines with a t-square, and they kept being straight even though they didn't look it.

I'd like to talk a bit about the painting of the black square. You can see the loose brushmarks in siena and ochre depicting rust on the surface. I liked the way the transparent strokes flowed freely one on top of another. Even though this texture doesn't follow my usual rule of sitting flatly on the surface of the image, I left it as it was; I enjoyed the lively touch and wanted a reminder of the possibilities of mark making.


  1. what has changed most in this painting (from Nov 28th post) is the implied space between the pipes on the lower left. in the earlier version this space could be flush with the plane that the dark square is on - almost suggesting a classic interior with a painting on the wall. now it has clearly lost that reference and it's still compositionally very appealing, there is something about that square in the upper right corner that is very settling.

  2. The most recent painting strikes me as the most assured, perhaps because of the sharper and more sweeping outlines. The square does, as Rappel says, suggest an old master, a Dutch interior or perhaps because of its darkness a Zurburan still life. It also suggests a depth the abstract shapes only do briefly – by indicating a painting within a painting. I like the faint echo of the pipe at the top of the ‘painting’. It is imaginative and pleasing in the way a rounded story can be.
    Good Monday to Vermont!
    From Linda, Sunday in LA

  3. Thanks both for the positive comments. How interesting, rappel, that the lower left space has seemed to change with the completion of the painting (because I didn't work further on it). As for that black square, when I first drew it, it wasn't a square, but I felt it was important to the structure to make it square rather than rectangular. Perhaps that helps in making it an anchor of sorts for the image.

    I'm happy with the Zurburan reference, Linda. I love his work, along with that of other Spanish still life painters.

  4. "mark making" — Apologies to Henry James, but those are "the two most beautiful words in the English language."

  5. Linda, Henry James is one of my great literary heroes. It seems to me that James' "summer afternoon" beats "mark making", but I'm touched by the praise.