Small paintings 7 and 8

I’ve caused some confusion by calling these ‘small paintings that don’t matter‘.  They are small, just 8½ by 5½ inches.  But fear not,  they do end up mattering, at least to me.  This is a trick I play on myself — starting out thinking ‘it’s just a little piece of paper, it doesn’t matter’ is actually a very liberating thought that frees creativity.  Thinking “it doesn’t matter”… then it doesn’t matter if I mess it up.  It’s just a piece of paper, I can just throw it away.  That removes a lot of hesitation and opens the creative flood gates.  Really these  are experimental for me.  All that said, I’ve done 9 of these now and haven’t really messed one up yet.  I should probably move back to canvas with this…

Small painting #7, "Other faculties", acrylic on 8.5" x 5.5" paper, February 12, 2012

For this one I only used some of my favorite colors.  Brilliant blue, bright aqua green, bright green, pyrrole red, and cadmium yellow light.  And black to make them all jump out.  And of course paper curls as the paint dries.  “Other Faculties” here practically curled up into the fetal position with all this paint!  Not shown — glue clamps and my thumb on all four corners holding it flat for the photo!

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With this one I started experimenting  with stencils and masking.  The round dots were stenciled with the top of an old Tylenol bottle that I sawed off.  Four rectangles were masked with masking tape.  The whole thing started with a gray wash, glue clamps holding the four corners down to a piece of plywood so it wouldn’t curl too much.  That worked!  🙂

Small painting #8, "Living mosaic of light and shade and wind", acrylic on 8.5" x 5.5" paper, February 19, 2012

So the masking tape preserved some of the wash and adds interest with negative shapes.  Finished it off with some pyrrole red, and some dots.  This one came out pretty well I think!  Especially considering I had a cold when I painted it (still do – ’tis the season) and my head was in a fog.  This one definitely matters.  🙂

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As always, comments and especially interpretations are more than welcome, they’re hoped for!  🙂  Tell me what they look like to you or what you see.  My belief is that the artists opinion of what he’s painting — especially with abstraction — is no more valid than any viewer’s opinion.  This is especially the case with non-representational abstraction like these.  This is what I think Duchamp was saying in one of my favorite quotes about art:

“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.”  -Marcel Duchamp

Further, I really had very little in mind other than experimentation and technique when I was painting these.  So by all means tell me what you make of these, and everything I paint!  🙂


Filed under Paintings

12 responses to “Small paintings 7 and 8

  1. Jim

    #8 is good. You need to do more stuff with less (obvious) structure, like this.

  2. sbmacinnis

    These are great!

  3. #7 i see party hats, #8 i see a snowstorm in a pine forest. In both I see 2 sets of “main images”: smaller / more backgroundish circles, and larger / more prevalent elongated shapes. Each also seems to employ a tool to break up the action: in #7 it is the yellow dividing lines, and in #8 it is the red streaks. I find them very similar, not sure u intended that. I like #8 more if i had to choose.

    • Party hats and snowstorms! I like it! To me, #7 was “space organisms” or “living spacecraft”, either near some equivalent of a coral reef or a traffic control pattern. All I had in mind for #8 was that the red things were ropes or vines. Interesting what you say about devices to break up the action — in both cases I meant for them to tie things together… As for similarity, they were painted one after the other, if a week apart…

  4. These are excellent! I love the first one. The colors all sing together. When I look at this painting, at a glance, I see blue umbrellas and red umbrellas and drops of rain…and the yellow parts could be lightning? Between the rain, and the colors singing, I have to wonder if you’re “Singin’ in the Rain”? 😉

    The second one is lovely too. There’s something Christmassy about it. The white rectangles made me think of candles right off, and the green and red background with patches of blue make me think of a Christmas tree. Just my thoughts. Very nice pieces! Hope you’re feeling better soon.

    • Thank you! Singing colors! 🙂 Yes! Hmm, umbrellas, rain, and Christmas. To me, #7 was “space organisms” or “living spacecraft”, either near some equivalent of a coral reef or a traffic control pattern. All I had in mind for #8 was that the red things were ropes or vines. But with all the green I can definitely see “Christmasy”.

      Thanks, I think I’m on the mend. 🙂

  5. On #7, my eye feels kind of blocked there, like those spaceships/Christmas tree’s are blocking my way into the painting. Strange feeling there. 🙂

    Love #8. I don’t know what my mind thinks it is, my mind/eye was just enjoying moving through the image. It was more emotion than wanting to try to figure what it is to me. It was calm and movement and happiness. The negative space is jarring also. Which adds some conflict for me.

    • Interesting. The blue ‘space critters’ are supposed to be the ‘subject’. They were the first things I painted anyway… I mean, I did not start these with a subject in mind, but they became the subject as it went along. I thought they were flying/floating/swimming above the background — we’re looking down at them.

      Everyone seems to like “Living mosaic of light and shade and wind” — I like it more too. 🙂 I’m glad to hear you describe it as “calm and movement and happiness”, because I was afraid that the red, which I intended to be ‘ropes’ or ‘vines’, came out looking like blood-soaked barbed wire… The negative rectangles were supposed to be a surprise, sorry they were jarring. Was that maybe because it’s hard to make out the middle two?

      Thanks for the candid feedback! 🙂 Really!

  6. Rob Slaven

    Hrm. I have to vote for “Other Faculties”. Spinning tops have fallen on the cracked surface of an alien world in which the little spiky red top eaters devour the unfortunate herbivorous blue tops. Hrm. Sagan will be proud. Or maybe I just like it because it fills up the whole page. 🙂

    • Yeah, that’s probably what’s going to happen here. I thought the red ones looked more… aggressive. The blue ones probably won’t be floating serenely above them for long…

      In other news, wow Way Station is a good book! Almost done. Been “savoring” it. ‘Global stupidity’ is quite a novel dues ex machina, though it seems we’re going to dodge that fate…

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

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