We had another good time at the March critique. The evening can be best described as an evening of art as a dialog for content, scheme and composition.
We started with my large painting (3’ X 4’) of the Shipley Center spot thirteen. This is a studio painting based on photos and the en plein air paintings I did last year (see Series Description and/or Gallery). The group liked the variety of colors and textures of the applied paint, and was particularly interested in the deep areas of shadow. Some work needs to be addressed in the way the high key light areas contrast against the shadows, and how to keep the eye within the painting. Some compositional problems were discussed such as the foreground bottom left plant creates a strong diagonal that causes rapid movement of the eye, but if read from right to left may cause the viewer to leave the painting. I thought it insightful the suggestion to darken the left side of the foreground plant to avoid this compositional flaw. If I do this I believe it would allow the eye to move upward to the yellow tree and keep the viewer within elliptical composition of the work. As far as a start of the painting, the critique was very encouraging, the group liked the rendering of the plant, and they gave me a lot to think about.
Thom’s is prolific as ever and brought in three paintings. All these paintings are very smart and engaged the viewer both aesthetically and intellectually. The first painting has a very interesting division in space starting with a pyramid type structure in the background and a bridge type structure in the foreground. The middle ground is in most part and pure composition of yellows and greens, with a strong textural wall that moves diagonally across the field (it appeared to me to be like fields of corn). The painting looked as though it was telling a story, but any since of an allegory was missing. This ignited a discussion on content versus structure since it seems that the painting is teetering on the verge of the two. It was suggested to add figures to the work to enhance a dialog within the content of the piece and/or to explore more passages between the background/middle ground/foreground space to elevate the structural cubist nature of the composition and alleviate the narrative. But all in all, the color and value structure of the painting is wonderful to look at.
His next pieces were synthetic cubist architectural plan that is deconstructed and reassembled in a graphic layout. As always with Thom’s work, the compositional layout was spot on; there is a beautiful balance from shape to shape, and a harmonious use of value. There was some suggestion of enhancing the color scheme or developing more color saturation against the grey fields to add energy to the work. It was also difficult to assess the origin of the pre-deconstructed architecture. It was perhaps too far away from the source and re-constructed without any previous reference to the baseline object, i.e. the architectural plan. Therefore, one would have to ask, ‘when using cubist techniques and sensibilities, is it important to refer back to the source of the cubist structure?’ This is an interesting discussion that seems to come up when viewing Thom’s work. In any case, these are very thought provoking pieces and obviously well done.
Donna has continued to work on her Devil’s Postpile and the rendering of the cliff, tree line and rock pile. The most obvious change was the array of rocks place through the tree line; this added greatly to the movement of the eye from background to foreground (see February Critique blog). There is also a greater variety of marks that add interest to the work when observed up close. The critique focused on the grouping of the major objects into well defined large shapes and discussed why that would add interest to the various ground planes (the picture shows some of that work in progress). There is quite a bit of color, but no specific color scheme; that is to say, there is no definitive warmness or coolness in the work. We suggested enhancing the warmth in the background rock ridges and further accenting the coolness of the shadows in the foreground to remedy the ambiguity. But all in all, it is exciting for all of us to see her development of this drawing, we are all anxious to see it next month.
Scott came to a previous the critique, but the blog was not active then. In any case, we were excited to have an additional participate to the critiques. Scott’s piece is best described (I think) as a post modern dialog of textures, material and imagery. His pieces are often cityscapes in motif with a good dose of surrealism mainly developed by a Freudian disassociation and displacement/ambiguity of space. The piece he brought was no exception. It is a beautiful painting that excites one from a distance and draws you in due to the material used, the individual rendering of the objects and the techniques employed to apply the paint. The allegory within the piece was a bit ambiguous; there is an ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’ image on the right side of the painting and diagonally down on the left was a black hole type image. A discussion of the reason for these two elements is interesting since this appeared to be the reason for the painting’s existence. It is not clear that there needs to be within the motif a dialog between the various compositional elements, but some reevaluating is warranted if that ambiguity is to be clarified. Also, since the space is post-modern there really isn’t any defined space to critique, but that fact did not deter us from suggesting Scott look at creating a more defined foreground and passages to a defined background. In conclusion, we all agree that this is a wonderful painting and we appreciate him sharing it with us.
As always there is a good time to have by all, and we look forward to seeing each other’s further development in their work. This has proved to be a valuable experience to us all, but most of all get great joy in increasing our circle of friends.