Sunday, December 19, 2004

Two paintings

Two silhouette paintings, the beginnings of a series. I am trying to access traditional New England imagery and decorative arts. These are the type of paintings I hope to enter in the "Close to Home" exhibit, although I will be making a new one for that. What do you think?


Blogger Alpha said...

Well first off let me say that imagery is not my forte (when done with actual images). I can't really do it to my satisfaction, and I am certianly not a man of information when it comes to the visual arts.

Therefore I will pose a series of questions which may give me a better handle on your thingy things here.

1. I already asked you this question: "Are those real leaves?" and heating yes, I'm wondering if they are "leaves" from traditionally New England trees. It looks like you've got some kind of maple leaf on the left and some lind of (beech?) leaf on the right.

2. The silhouettes seem extremely similar to each other, but not quite. Is this an optical illusion? If not then why the changes? It would look from the leave color that the two are from the same point in time, or at least in the same season if not in the same year.

3. The outer backround that sets off the inner backround of the ovals reminds me of photos in ovular frames hanging on the wall. THe dots in the right one are also strongly associated with wallpaper for me. Why aren't these in ovular frames with or without cutting off all the outer backround?

3.5 Given that what's in the right frame looks like wallpaper, how come it's "inside" the "frame."

3.0 Are ovals a tradditionally New England frame shape?

4. This isn't much of a question as it is a statement. I don't like that color orange.

5. I just don't.

6. What's up with all the leaves in the right one all pointing innward? Shouldn't they be pointing outward or up?

That's all from me except to say that the leaves on the left look like flames. If they where red or red/orange they would look more so. I don't know what they look like in the fall. Then you could title them "Tounges of Fire" and "Halo" respectively. Or Halo and Halo 2: Combat Evolved. Your choice.

December 31, 2004 at 4:10 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

Thanks for your comments, Aaron. I will try to answer your questions.
1. These are leaves that I collected from our yard and am trying to render as realistically as possible.
2. The figure in each painting is the same. The colors are different because I am experimenting with different color schemes. The subject matter and composition are not yet developed enough in my mind to be dealing with a conceptual progression like seasons.
3. The ovals are in front of the silhouette and wallpaper because they are meant to act like a mat between the potential picture frame and the subject of the painting. This is a compositional device used in portraits from the 1800s.
4. I agree that the yellow-orange needs some adjusting.
5. Why does the direction of the leaves disturb you?

From your comments and some conversations I've had, it sounds like I need to concentrate on making these more visually coherent - tying the three elements together better.

Any thoughts on how these can convey more of a sense of history or heritage? Color scheme? Visual elements? Something is missing...

January 4, 2005 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Alpha said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

January 6, 2005 at 6:18 PM  
Blogger Alpha said...

In reply to your question, Shannon, "5. Why does the direction of the leaves disturb you?" I would say that the direction doesn't disturb me. However, that is not true, since, after thinking it over, I have realized that I wouldn't have tried to find a reason to have them there if I had truely enjoyed their presence.

I guess I am disturbed because all the leaves are oriented the same way. This is by derinition unnatural. So one must ask the question, "What are they DOING?" Which after a little more thought becomes, "What are they pointing AT?"

Well, the leaves on the left are pointing up. This doesn't bother me much. Lots of things are pointed up. I'm not sure I could give you any great examples, but most things we have, we orient up. We do this with maps, silverware, numbers, letters, and photographs. (I appologize, those were freakishly AWESOME examples.) It's the "natural" way to be unnatural.

However, the leaves to the right are all oriented IN. and, when asked what they are pointing at, the answer is, "the middle of the back of the head of the guy." And WHY are they like this? THERE IS NO ANSWER! Whis bothers me.


January 6, 2005 at 6:22 PM  
Blogger bairdnyc33 said...

Saturday 09 January 2005... 150 years since Louisa May Alcott's first book was published.

Hi Shannon.

For some reason I prefer the painting on the left. Probably because of the higher contrast. My comments will be restricted to that one.

A few years ago the colors would not have struck me as fitting into a traditional New England genre. However, having visited an old N.E. home in Concord I've learned that at least some New Englanders were quite adventuresome in their choice of wallcoverings and paint colors. They tracked Paris fashions as closely as popssible.

Your oak leaf pattern seems quite realistic.

While I like the high contrast maybe the white is a bit too bright to make me think of old N.E.

The profile made me think of Ralph Waldo Emerson... and how he was a friend of the Alcotts in Concord. [I'm a fan of Bronson Alcott, Louisa May Alcott's radical-educator father. FYI - Louisa May Alcott's first book, Flower Fables, was published in 1855. Little Women was published in 1868.]

{ In 1834, Ralph Waldo Emerson moved to Concord, the town where his grandfather had served as minister at the time of the Revolution. Emerson's stature as a writer, thinker, poet and philosopher drew other intellectuals to the town during America's literary renaissance. Within the town today are the homes of the Alcotts, Emerson, Hawthorne and Henry D. Thoreau. During the 1850s Concord was a center of anti-slavery activity and was a stop on the underground railroad for slaves escaping to freedom. }

{ Louisa May Alcott, the second daughter of Amos Bronson Alcott and Abigail "Abba" May was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on November 29, 1832. At an early age, Louisa and her family moved to Boston, Massachusetts where her father pursued his teaching career by setting up the Temple School. }

Shannon, for my money you've captured the spirit of Literary Concord. Nice.

- Baird

P.S. Thinking of Concord reminds me of Henry Flagg French, UMass' first president (It was the 1860s and we were Massachusetts Agricultural College, MAC).

Check this out:
{ Though MAC’s first class did not enroll until a year after French’s departure, a visitor to the fledgling campus in 1865 might well have noticed a young man attending to the daily chores of the college farm. [President French's son] was 14 when he moved to Amherst with his father and stepmother. [snip] [President] French sometimes referred to his son as “the first graduate of MAC.”


After leaving Amherst, the Frenches moved to Concord, where their neighbors included Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Alcotts. Young Daniel enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but his first year was a disaster. He failed three courses and returned home and worked the family farm.

At the time, few would have guessed that young Daniel French would become one of the country’s preeminent sculptors, whose works include the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial, the statue of John Harvard at Harvard University and the Minute Man at the North Bridge in Concord.}


January 8, 2005 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

To Aaron: I think you're right that it makes more sense for the leaves to be oriented independent of the silhouette. They should be indifferent to the presence of the silhouette, since they are meant to be decorative. If these paintings were about a different artistic tradition, the halo would make more sense.
To Baird: It's interesting how New England occupies this space in our minds that is kind of stodgy and Puritanical, with muted colors, when a lot of radicals made their homes here. Thanks for the interesting history.

January 10, 2005 at 1:22 PM  

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