May 5, 2010

Primary Colors: Two Paintings

Strapped Blue, egg tempera on vellum, 3 x 10 inches

Here are two new paintings, both using a color theme of red, yellow and blue, though the colors in each painting are very different. Although I've titled the post "Primary Colors", only Primary Shapes has colors that would be classified as such. I've written before on how my new process of gleaning images from my photo files has set me free from the real objects depicted; this freedom came clear to me while working on Strapped Blue (which by the way, has a more balanced color palette than it appears in the photo above, with the blue not quite as intense; please click on the image to see a better reproduction). The boxy shape on the upper right was originally gray, but I thought that having a red/blue/yellow theme would be more interesting, so I changed it. I like the way the long rectangle emphasizes the stretch of black across the blue-green volume.

Primary Shapes, egg tempera on vellum, 4 1/4 x 5 inches

Primary Shapes also had a change in the composition from the original image: there had been a blackish semi-circular form at the top left, but I was unable to make it work, so happily painted it out. The blue in this painting is of course the sky, seen through the shapes of a machine. I am uncertain about the presence of a color that becomes immediately identifiable; sometimes I feel that I should stay away from using it, that it removes a level of abstraction. But then, it's such a great color.

Below are my three most recent paintings hanging on a wall in my kitchen, to get a sense of scale; the white shape at bottom is for the telephone (my house is quite funky; never mind the phone, notice the fake wood paneling) and the painting of a city street is by Leonard Dufresne, titled Delivery Truck, dated 1979. You can see more of his wonderful paintings here. As you can see, I have stretched vellum panels the exact size of the images, which emphasizes their modernity, nicely contrasting with the shapes of collectibles displayed on an antique hutch.


  1. Two wonderful paintings Altoon. I think both of these are new favorites of mine too.

  2. I've been looking at your paintings on the internet, and because they fill the screen, I was not so aware of actual scale. Even knowing the works are on vellum, the impact was different. Seeing them in the kitchen, against other objects, makes me see them in a different way. Beautiful works. Erick

  3. I like esp seeing them on the wall, brings out the composition without the particularities - then moving in closer and seeing these are configurations from the actual world - that little flick of reflected light on the turquoise - very nice!
    the blue almost doesn't read as sky because the texture is the same as the rest. it could be a close surface of a background object - it's more though association that it turns to sky.

  4. Thanks all for the nice comments. It's interesting about that photo of the works on the wall: because these paintings are so small, it really helps to show them in a real world context; I never felt that was necessary with my larger panel paintings. As for the blue, I'm glad you think it doesn't read as sky, rappel, though as you say, there's the association ever present.