November 5, 2015

A New Painting: "Gray Circles"

Gray Circles, egg tempera on calfskin parchment, 6 3/4 x 9 in.

It's quite unusual for me to make a painting whose color is essentially a neutral gray; during the six years I've been painting on parchment, I've done only one other, in 2012, which you can see here. It's fairly easy to make a lively painting whose primary color is yellow or blue, but with gray it's something of a challenge. The many repeated circles, large and small, drew me to this image. I decided to keep the color close to the original grays of the galvanized metal, rather than invent a more brilliant hue. I think it's a painting that swings between reserve––because of the quiet color––and energy––in its many circles and its cast shadows. And I swing between thinking it's a good painting and one that's just ho-hum. 

Gray Circles detail


  1. It's very good, because the drawing and the tones are terrific. The shifts between the warms and the cools are extremely nice.

  2. Replies
    1. It is the blue shadows, as seen also in "white" snow, which belie the larger context.
      The light-angle, also, seems to suggest that my eye is looking down on a horizontal-flat surface...and interesting feeling looking at a painting!
      It's a "good painting".

  3. Nothing ho-hum about this painting Altoon! The composition combines balance and tension, and the interplay between the warm and cool grays make this a very lively piece.

  4. ...wishing for an"d" edit button....!

  5. Thanks so much, Tamar and JBS.
    And JBS, you are correct: I was looking down at a horizontal surface, but I straightened out the receding angles so as to make the image more frontal-seeming.