This is a follow-up to the last post and my thoughts on tension/energy and flow. I've had a few days in the studio to mull them over in relation to works in progress--looking for the main source of energy or tension in various paintings and trying to see how other aspects of the work either support or compete with that source. Playing off the idea in modern dance that the area of energy pulls the rest of the body along, I've been looking for a similar flow in my work, and trying to see where it's lacking and why. It seems to me that a small amount of resistance to the main flow is OK, and may add a bit of spark--but the energy of a painting can't be siphoned off in too many places or it definitely looses its strength.
Lately I've been working on a couple of new paintings in my Column
series, and in studying these it's pretty obvious that their main energy comes from the overall format--the tall vertical dimension made up of contrasting horizontal divisions. So within the individual panels, images, lines and colors work if they complement rather than compete with the vertical grid of the composition...some have horizontal or vertical aspects to their composition, others provide color contrast that creates visual breaks between panels. When a Column painting is successfully resolved, the individual panels yield overall to the upward flow of the work.
That seems simple, and I'm sure I've been aware of it on some level or I wouldn't have any successful Column paintings! But it hasn't been very far forward in my mind, and lacking this awareness, I've spent a lot of time messing around with various textures, colors and compositions that didn't
work. So, note to self: when a painting isn't working, figure out where the main "pull" comes from--how it is generated, what aspects of color, composition, contrast, etc. are involved. And then ask what aspects of the painting are clumsily straining in some other direction, sapping the strength of clear intention. Make this a very conscious process, a clear analysis. (Ah, finally a New Years resolution that grabs me!)