April 27, 2014

A New Painting: "Red Flip"

Red Flip, egg tempera on calfskin parchment; 2 panels, each 7 1/2 x 4 in.

This painting is something of an experiment: I had a pair of small panels ready for a painting, so I went looking for an image that would work on them, which is backwards from my usual "make the panel to fit the image". As a whole image with no break, the composition of the photo source did not interest me; it lost too much energy in the horizontal stretching of the red shape. I did love that little flippy shape at the lower left, and as I played with the idea of breaking the image in two, I saw a way of working with that funny curve. With two panels, the red flip balanced nicely with the downward facing triangle of red shadow, a relationship that was a little lost when the image was continuous. I made some other adjustments, adding a background diagonal in the right panel that had a slightly different angle than the diagonals in the left panel, also different from each other. I decided to have the bottom horizontal line discontinuous, so the jump from panel to panel is emphasized. I was also thinking of Cézanne, how in so many of his paintings lines, like those of tables, did not flow straight ....

Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses, ca. 1890; oil on canvas, 
28 3/4 x 36 3/8 in. Image courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

....but are visually interrupted by the objects in front of them. I felt that the objectness of each panel became more clear when the red line did not move smoothly across. I very much like working with diptychs; I like their sense of a separated whole; I like the energy that comes from the eye leaping from one side to the other. Each summer when I gather new images for my paintings I think about multi-panel works, but then I end up focusing on the unitary. I must open my eyes to different kinds of image structures this coming season.

Red Flip detail


  1. Very much appreciate your process here and a new insight into Cezanne. Liked yesterday's rhubarb photo.