November 22, 2010

A New Painting: "Composition in Red and Yellow".

Composition in Red and Yellow, egg tempera on calfskin parchment,
5 x 5 inches.

The title of this work is a nod toward abstract painting, and Mondrian in particular, who used the phrase "composition in..." as titles for many of his works. I based this painting on a photo that became the jumping off point for a post I wrote on American Modernism, which you can see here. This is one of the few cases where I think I like the photograph more than the painting (as they look online), though I like the painting too. I simplified the forms in the painting, eliminating a lot of texture and some small details; for instance, there were more than the four holes in the surface of the yellow circle, but I felt that having just the one curved line of circles was more effective. I also played down the color and value contrasts in order to make the whole more harmonious. I try, while I'm working, to pay more attention to the internal life of the painting than to its original out in the real world, a balancing act: how much realism? how much abstraction? in balance, the work is convincing and feels true.


  1. farm machinery meets amusement park - machine is machine but the color sure changes perception, as does composition... if I were a critic flinging out blurbs I'd say of this one "dynamite"

  2. wow, thank you rappel.
    another thing that I believe changes perception is the focusing on a small part of the whole, which is usually not seen or noticed.

  3. I like the painting at least as much as the photo -- it's interesting to compare them. The little creature-shape on the upper right -- goes in and out, either hole or protrusion. That's kind of funny! but mostly it looks strong and ready to swing around, with power.

  4. thanks, Susan. I'm glad you like the little shape; I think of it as amusing also, calling it a little fillip to myself.