Memory Painting ~ Stimulates Unison Head & Heart

Memory Painting

We live in a visual world. Visual images draw heart-felt responses. Without words or thought, the process is instantaneous. Heart beats faster, pulse quickens.

Figline Valdarno, version 1
Figline Valdarno, version 1

Yet we are taught not to trust it. Stop and think, consider all other alternatives. Question everything. In the process of due diligence, hearts disconnect.

The purpose of art is to reconnect head and heart. When the two work in unison, conflict dissolves. This painting is a tiny, yet perfect example. My first try at it, I labored to make it “true” to what I saw with my eyes. Not satisfied I took another stab.

Painting back into it I forgot about trying to make it look like something important and accurate. Instead I painted my “memory” of the landscape. The “real” landscape I had seen became merely my jumping off point for an opportunity to wander around in my imagination. Folly? Unproductive? A waste of time?

My heart’s colors spilled onto the painting. Acceptance of the way it is, in that singular moment, a precious experience of head and heart in unison. Though a short duration of 15 minutes, the experience fulfills something extremely important to any human being.

To be accepted for all that I am and all that I am not, in any single moment of the day, is a special gift I can give myself. One which helps me be there for my friends and family in ways I never could.

Memory painting
Figline Valdarno (Final Version), oil on panel, 5 x 7

Daily Paintings

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Translucent Oil ~ Influences of Watercolor

Translucent Oil

I remember Rodger Bechtold talking about the influence of his early watercolors on his oils. I’d never thought about painting translucently in any medium. Rodger said he liked the resonance of a particular Ultramarine sky in one of his paintings. I liked it too.

Rodger’s gallery talk at Glave Kocen Gallery in Richmond this spring opened my mind.  I have followed his work for many years. Rodger’s paintings have always felt to me like I was seeing myself in the mirror. The opportunity to hear him speak, a magnet to my heart.

Not caught in the details, Bechtold’s paintings speak with clear earthy simplicity. Something I’ve always tasted before I pick up the paint brush.

translucent oil
Sambuca, oil, 11 x 14

Watercolors I began in France two years ago opened a doorway. Light, white paper, white space between colors. Why not white gessoed textured panel peeking through translucent oil paint?

This painting answered my query. Visiting the monastery in Sambuca, I came home with an inspiration to paint the scroll detail, back lit with warm light ~ contrasted by cool light from the open doorway.

Using Venetian Red (which I had just reintroduced into my palette), Ultramarine Blue and Indian Yellow, I limited my palette to just three colors. Cool light from the doorway punctuated by Jim’ figure sitting in darkness of the pew.

I thinned the Venetian Red, a very opaque pigment, with a lot of medium. Without white paint, which would turn the pigment pink, it stayed earthy. It caught in the ridges of heavy-body white gesso I had used to prep the panel, leaving wonderful light and dark patterns in the paint.

Like watercolor, I made it a point to get in and get out without working it to death. A few willow charcoal details, throwbacks to my pastel calligraphy, my connection with earth pigments.

The pediment on the chapel, by the way, read MDII, 1502.

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Color Field Watercolor Paintings

The dream about color field paintings, abstract shapes juxtaposed, shifted my gears. For the last three weeks, images of colorful linens strung from balconies and apartment windows captured my imagination. The dream gave me permission to play with them.

color field
Homage to the Sun, watercolor, 8.25 x 11.8″, Handmade Garza Watercolor Paper

Playing with this one granted my wish to play more. Adding the two flower pots to the railing at first felt like a violation. Freed from my landscape palette, I granted freedom to my notion of wrong-doing. I rather think the flower pots make the painting sing!

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