March 11, 2011

A New Painting: "Three Openings"

Three Openings, egg tempera on calfskin parchment, 4 x 5 1/2 inches

This painting nearly defeated me, purely because of a problem of dust. Every once in a while I work on a painting that attracts dust specks and little hairs like a magnet, and no matter how many bits I pick out with the sewing needle I keep on my worktable for the purpose, more and more appear. The biggest problem with dust is that the paint will lift off when I burnish the surface, leaving white specks. After working on it for a few hours, I finally solved the problem by wiping off the entire right side of the painting and starting again.

What attracted me to this image was the pinwheel of dark shapes around the round opening; the two dark recesses are joined by the shadow on the left to encircle the bolt. The triangular shadow is balanced by the slightly darker rectangle at the upper left. I occasionally paint planar compositions such as this one, for instance see another yellow painting called Simple Shapes. It sometimes makes me wonder if I could do purely non-objective painting, but I feel that I could never be as inventive as the surprising things I find out in the world.


  1. Madeleine Segall-MarxMarch 11, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    Funny how we can approach our work in such fundamentally different ways. Me, I would adopt the dust and the hair, and the less I must observe and preserve, the more mindless I am, the better. It's the "hope for the best" approach.
    But your work is very interesting, and lovely...

  2. We obviously have very different sensibilities, Madeleine, so I'm glad you appreciate my work. I wouldn't mind the dust so much if it didn't end up lifting the paint, which wouldn't happen with oil paint.

  3. The shadows and depth of your painting are waht brings these objects alive.

  4. Thanks, Lisa. I love what cast shadows and sunlight do to forms and color, so usually go out to find motifs on sunny days.

  5. three openings - something facial attempts to emerge - and impish!

  6. rappel, it's marvelously easy to start seeing faces in objects. Impish is great; nice to think of that those shapes winking at us.