October 30, 2010

A New Painting: "Turning"

Turning, egg tempera on calfskin parchment, 7 1/4 x 5 inches.

My newest painting is composed differently from most that came before: instead of an essentially flat plane, parallel to the picture plane, this work pushes back and forth in space, turning round from side to side and from back to front. I've been feeling that this illusionism is possibly too naturalistic, so am not sure of the success of the painting, though at times it seems interestingly strange. Is it too real, too complex, not abstract enough? I like there to be an even balance, but here it might be tipped; what do you think?

Because this is a fairly complicated painting, I took a couple of process shots. This first one shows the painting when the color was first sketched in and there was still a lot of transparency to the paint. The parchment has a very luminous quality at this stage.

And here is the painting after I worked on the drawing, getting each form in its place in the correct proportion. I do some of this freehand with paint and some, like the straight lines, with a pencil and ruler. This foundation of drawing allows me to use paint more freely. It is not etched in stone, however, as I do change things as I continue to work; my aim, not always achieved, is to keep a quality of freshness within the precise rendering.


  1. I always feel like I can just reach out and touch your subjects. Marvelous.

  2. to me there's a lot of tension/ drama here, hovering, pressing - yes, suspension. it's really strong. I look forward to seeing it in conjunction with some previous paintings at some point. maybe it's the beginning of a new conversation...

  3. For those who know what they are looking at, all your paintings are very abstract, composed, formal. There are those that look more like 'scenes', but that's okay. I feel they are all pretty great.

    Sometimes an arrow that misses one's intended target can score a bullseye on another's.

    That's my Sunday sermon and I'm sticking to it!

  4. Altoon, I do like this one -- I like it that I can go back and forth between seeing it flat and 3D. The wheel mechanism is such a spinner; it's also easy to see this in motion, and the belt coming down and under. I know that for you this isn't about the function of the machines -- but it's there for me anyway. And when I look at it flat, the contrast between the sunny parts & the deep shadows of the chute and one flange really take over. It's wonderfully complex.

  5. I agree with the comments above--I also like the play of depth and flatness. I do think about the purpose of those mechanisms, given their "realness" here. But no, I don't find this painting too "naturalistic". The strongest element for me is the wonderful tension between subtle depth and tightly formatted design.

  6. thank you so much, dear readers, for your interesting comments on this piece. This online conversation is like having a good studio visit; now I feel more confident in this painting, and in making works that have more complexity. I'll definitely photograph this painting with others soon.
    also: now I'll tell you that I enlarged the upper section of the painting, because the photo exaggerated the perspective.