Painting: Falling

Here’s another painting I finished recently.  It’s a bit of a departure for me.  And obviously I cannot claim there is no symbolism in this one.  🙂


Falling, acrylic on 12" x 16" canvasboard

So, a word (or 329) on themes in art:

There are at least three motives that I see behind themes in art, other than intentionally using a theme as subject matter.  Ok, four then.  But the first I wanted to mention is probably the most overlooked for its straightforward simplicity — maybe the artist just likes to paint elephants or palm trees or hieroglyphics or Kokopelli, etc.

Another force behind a theme is that the artist keeps trying to do something, but does not think they have achieved it yet.  The artist can seem to be painting the same kind of thing over and over… because he is.  I have this going on with these.  The second changed direction a little, but the third, which you’re seeing for the first time now, is a return to at least the original direction of what I’m going for.

Mother's Day Painting

Mother's Day Painting, Acrylic on 12" x 9" canvas paper progress progress progress progress

And then there are themes that are more psychological.  ‘Falling’ falls into this category.  (I said “falling falls” — sorry, couldn’t resist)  Ahem, moving right along:

I once heard of the notion of ‘personal imagery’, which is something that is symbolic just to you.  Not something with widely recognized symbolism, like the story of Icarus for example.  For years I wondered if I had any personal imagery — now I realize I do.  Falling is not an entirely negative thing to me though.  Certainly if there is oh, a planet rushing up towards you, then falling is definitely a bad thing.  But if you have a parachute, then falling can be a lot of fun.  Until fairly recently in life I’ve always wanted to try skydiving.  Then there is falling asleep.  When I go to bed extremely tired, I often literally feel a falling sensation as I fall asleep.  It’s nice.  A pleasant plummeting into a sky of dreams.  Then there is zero-gravity free-fall, as in space.  I’ve always though that would be a whole lot of fun.  “Falling in love” is also an interesting euphemism, isn’t it?

So this guy in this painting… I’m really not sure why he’s falling.  I can’t tell if he is tense, as he would be if falling to his death, or just excited and having a blast.  One thing though — with all those bright colors he is a ‘being of light’, for lack of a better term.  Regardless of whether his fall is a good thing or bad, the bright colors represent the greatness of his potential and capabilities.  He makes his own reality, as each of us does every moment of every day.  And I also really cannot say if the dark background represents the foreboding of impending doom, or just the mystery of adventure and wonders as yet undiscovered.  Either way, one thing for sure is that he is not Icarus.

Another thing is that in the moment frozen in this painting, everything is fine.  He’s just falling, and has not hit the ground — or opened his parachute — yet.  In this moment there really are no problems.  Everything is fine.  We need to remember that this is always the case in every moment.  It’s always fine, no matter how bad it seems.  We make problems, and there would not be any distress over situations (aka problems) if we did not create it.  I need to remember that  better too.

So ‘falling’ is definitely a theme I could explore more through painting, or blogging, or just sittin’ and thinkin’…

As always, comments are more than welcome.  Even though I haven’t left you much room for interpretation with this one.  But I would still love to hear what this painting means to you, or any other thoughts.  🙂


Filed under Paintings, Strange things found in my head

17 responses to “Painting: Falling

  1. Wow, and I just post photos. 🙂 This is a great post. When I looked at the falling image, I was unsure too about what was happening. The background is evenly dark, so he’s not falling into necessarily necessarily seen as bad. But the colors of his suit, show him to really be living and living well (as in a good way/happy way/fulfiling way – not in a monetary way).

    The way you described this painting reminded me a bit of those who jumped from the Trade Center buildings during 9/11. Those jumper photos seemed to be pretty much censored (I don’t watch tv), but I saw a few, where the person looked like they had just taken their own life and made the decision to go out the way they wanted to, and they did some pose or something that just looked so free to me. I saw those people as taking life into their own hands and what can be more freeing than that? In the midst of something so terrible, for YOU to have the choice. So falling can be a most powerful thing.

    Great post here.

    • Thanks! And don’t sell yourself short — you take really good photos. I’ve done photography too, not at your level, but enough to have understood that it’s every bit as much an art form as painting is. The main difference is just that it’s quicker. You still need the eye and thinking of an artist to compose, think creatively, and pose shots. With photography it’s just harder to get away from realism; with painting it’s harder to get closer to realism… That’s why I like your abstracts so much — that is new and interesting stuff!

      Yeah, at some point while writing the post I realized it would call to mind those who jumped on 9/11. But that honestly never entered my head while I was painting it. But you are right — those who jumped on 9/11 in a way showed what strong and powerful beings we are — that even in a situation that dire we’re still capable of making that choice, given the opportunity. *Not* paralyzed by the fear of imminent death. It’s mind-blowingly amazing really. Anyway, I’m glad the colors brought that out in the painting.

      Falling *is* a powerful idea. Yet, right now I do not yet have anything else in mind to paint along this theme… Funny, that. 🙂

      • Thanks, Zorgor! I kind of want to get back into painting. 🙂 I had a 4th grade teacher who thought I was great, and I did do some panting for a bit when I was younger. I really admire you guys! 🙂

        I do follow my eye, and I do think my work is more artistic, exacting composition, different angles and the such. So glad you love my abstracts. They are what I love to do now, and it’s not easy just to get great compositions/visuals with them, as I’m sure you know. I admire your paintings! 🙂

        Glad i wasn’t off base with thinking of 9/11. The image of some of them jumping is burned into my mind. I think you’re right. They had so much courage to jump. As awful as it was, it is so powerful, and I admire that courage. You are so right, it really is mind blowing and amazing when you think about it. That’s probably why it’s such a visual presence in my head.

        Falling is powerful. My mind it twisting some thoughts in my head to see if it likes the idea of doing some photography around falling. 🙂

        Have a great weekend!

        • I would love to see what you’d paint! I’d love to see more of your abstract photos! And yeah, I’d love to see any work you do around a falling theme — I’m kind of interested in that idea now… obviously! 🙂

          Oh no, you’re not off base at all. 9/11 had such an impact on us… on a whole generation. Maybe more than just on Americans too… So I would think it would be hard *not* to think of 9/11 when seeing artwork like this.

          And frankly, I reject the idea of being ‘off base’ or ‘incorrectly’ interpreting art. I think *any* person’s interpretation is just as valid as the artists. Seriously. If I ever get around to writing a manifesto, that is going to be a central part of it. 🙂 Marcel Duchamp said, “The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.” I firmly believe that. So like opinions, there are no ‘wrong’ interpretations of art. Further, I really *like* to hear your interpretations of my stuff — your thoughts add to my creative process. Telling me what you think it looks like or what it means to you or makes you think of, is something that helps me. 🙂

  2. Jim

    I think the falling man is the best thing I’ve seen you post.

    I do take some exception with the idea that we make problems. Certainly most people make or worsen problems in their own minds. But I can list any number of things that happen that truly are problems. If my furnace fails on the coldest night of the year, I have a problem. Things are not fine. I need to take some sort of action. I can certainly get my knickers all in a twist about it, thus making things seem worse. I can also choose to accept reality and act accordingly.

    • Thanks Jim! And to think I sat on posting this one for a while… 🙂

      With ‘problems’ I was making a fine point and not being very clear about it either. All I’m saying it that no situation is a problem until someone decides it is. When the furnace goes out, that is just a situation — it is utterly indifferent to you. We decide if it is good, bad, or neither. While most would not hesitate to agree that that is a problem, and I would too when I’m thinking less loftily and more practically, of itself it’s just a situation. Inanimate objects. If there is no heat in an abandoned house on the coldest night of the year, is that a problem? No it’s not, because there is no one there to decide it is. See what I mean?

      And everything *is* fine in that moment. The heat is out. It’s below zero outside. But you’re still alive and fully able to deal with the situation. You see a problem *coming*, but it can help to stay aware of the fact that it is not here now.

      So in the most literal sense, all problems are made by us. Without us to make judgments, there are only situations. What I’m saying is that at bottom, what a problem is, is a value judgment of a situation. I told you it was a fine point. 🙂 And it’s a philosophical one.

      So keeping this in mind is one way to do exactly what you’re recommending — accepting reality and acting accordingly, and not making it worse in the mind. Seeing the situation without casting it as a problem, one can decide what action to take — you know, to avoid freezing — but without starting down the road of making it worse in your mind. But *you* know I have difficulty practicing what I’m preaching here. That’s why I said I need to keep this in mind more myself.

      So the man is falling. The best use of his time in that moment is to enjoy still being alive, even if it’s only for the next 30 seconds. To bring a future situation, even going splat like a bag of soup, into the present moment and cast it as a problem, only accomplishes ruining the present moment too. That is the worst thing I can imagine doing when it’s one of the last moments you’re going to have, and there is nothing you can do about it…

      So by the way, how is your new furnace working? 🙂

  3. Ok, so falling… Absolutely stunning. Your progress is amazing. Honestly? I could see that in the IMA and not at all think it out of place.

    • Oh pish-aw. 🙂 But thanks! That is high praise indeed. Don’t you think you’re laying it on just a weeeeee bit thick? 🙂

      • Rob Slaven

        Um. No? I figured you would say that. I have a blog post on this topic pending but I’ve been reading your posts at 6am on my phone before I get out of bed and getting very “honest” views of them. There have been a couple, including this one, that I saw and though initially that you’d gone to find someone elses painting to put up as an example of the genre. Then I read the text and discover that you actually did them. So no, not laying it on at all. Your work has become exceptionally striking as of late. *shrug* Blame my unpracticed eye if you want. 🙂

        • Thank You Sir. That is the last time I’ll doubt your sincerity. 🙂 I went to the IMA today and oddly enough as you were writing that, I was reevaluating my attitude toward my paintings. Lets just say that with many masterpieces I found new appreciation for (Cézanne & Pissarro), I also saw two paintings that really made me wonder why they were there… So, ok. You do have a point. 🙂

          Hey, btw, I also found that Norman Rockwell that you blogged about a while ago, that I could not remember ever having seen there. I think what threw me was that your photo was a detail shot… but she *is* the best part of that painting — The Love Song. I guess I had never noticed her in the painting before. Not really a Rockwell fan at all, so I probably never really stopped to really look at that one.

          Thanks for the early morning ‘fresh’ views. 🙂 I am dying of curiosity now — which others did you initially think I was posting as examples from other artists? 😀

      • Rob Slaven

        Unrelated to that, I’ve found that WordPress isn’t optimal about notifying commentors of replies to their comment. Unless I subscribe to EVERY comment on this post, I don’t even see when you reply specifically to what I said. Very suboptimal.

        • Hmm. Yeah, I have to admit lately I’ve been having difficulty finding an effective way of keeping up with all the blogs I’ve subscribed to and responses to comments I’ve made. Have you tried the “Comments I’ve Made” page? It’s kind of helpful, but I have two complaints: 1) I wish it would thread responses to my comments under them… 2) The people who wrote that page seem to assume people would be using it to keep track of the whole “conversation” on a post, instead of just looking for responses to your own comments… It seems to drag up a lot of old, old comments, as what it is actually doing is showing what someone else has just said to a post I responded to weeks ago…

          How do you subscribe to a *comment*?

  4. Pingback: Painting: Fairy | zorgor

  5. Alternative title suggestion for Falling: “The Google Avatar Falls into the Abyss.” 😛

    Actually, of all the paintings I’ve seen of yours, I think this one is my favorite so far. It’s an excellent combination of execution, emphasis, and mystery.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and interpretations! Your comments and likes are what keep the paintings and posts coming. :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s