It seems like each canvas and palette belongs to its own identity, and my work as the artist is to align it, if you will, with the ideas and subject I bring to them.
And they don't always match. More on this part later.
So enters the 12 Squared Holiday Art Show at Terakedis Gallery in Billings, MT. The guidelines are to create three or four artworks measuring 12" by 12". When I saw the call for art on the Instagram page, @terakedisfineartandjewelry, the process of inspiration started to roll.
I like rules. A lot. I like guidelines, too, and I like to find structure and creative problem-solving within a set of laid-out parameters. On the other side of that, I also ascribe to some latitude in working with said functions. My goal was to start out with a defined set of measurements and processes, and then to see where each canvas took the process.
I wanted to start with the same experience for each canvas so I could further understand whether each canvas does indeed have a direction it is meant to go. I decided to layer washes of color. As a purely visual experience, the layering of colors brings such delight to my eyes. What begins as a shallow experience builds and deepens, changing with each wash, sometimes fully and sometimes garishly.
Math and historical connections, both in human thought and geological nature, play significant roles in my work. In my mystified nature of studying compositional methods, and their furtherings found in nature, I started studying the role of the golden ratio when I picked up painting. I recall mentions in college, and with this little seed tucked into the recesses of my brain, I enjoy spending some time with the ratio in my work, most notably in using golden rectangles. A golden rectangle is a rectangle whose sides are related in the golden ratio, roughly 1.618. As this is not essay on golden ratios and rectangles and such, I'll leave my explanations there. I don't inherently know the intricacies yet, and so I am borrowing the knowledge and using the calculations in my artistic studies. One of the fascinating alignments with this particular 12 Squared project, is that if a square (whose sides are the length of the shortest rectangle side) is removed from a golden rectangle, then the remaining shapes is a golden rectangle as well. And this continues throughout each remaining rectangle. Remove a square and be left with a golden rectangle.
In this project, with the squares measuring 12" on the sides, I calculated that a rectangle with the golden ratio would be 12 x 7.416 (rounded to 7.4). These equations, the measurements and divisions, the definitive nature and exacting amounts, recalling rules from algebra and trigonometry; they provided the structure and rules that I so craved.
With those numbers, I started to play with different options to work within them. It was time to start on some compositions.
Using the ideas of layering colors to delineate portions, I taped off areas. In one, I strictly took the 12 x 7.4 rectangle and added washes of color to the two rectangles above and below it, and then to the rectangle perpendicular to it. In another, I determined the area of the rectangle and divided it into 16 different sections. Those alcoves became places to study the living movements. They also directly created the remnant marks for another square. All of these grounds gave me structure on which to work. I left one canvas as a vast color field.
It didn't work.
The paint didn't blend correctly. The colors were off. It was too transparent. I was lost in the expanse of brick.
All of my planning, measuring, and structure, gone on the first painting.
Looking back, the painting wasn't bad. But the contrasts were too much.
Hours and hours and days and days I had spent on this piece. I hadn't progressed, and my paintbrush couldn't find the right place to be. I made a drastic choice with my palette knife and loads of colors. In minutes, I had covered it with my free will. Gone were the pools of crimson and grains of yellows. In their place was a delightful blend of textures and color. I went to sleep, and the next morning, started fresh.
It came together as easily as itches and scratches. The flow was effortless. What I had perseverated over for a week coalesced into straight hours spent painting, this time with no exasperation and all joy.
The reminder that as much as I wanted it to be something, as much as I had prepped it to be, it had its own purpose; that is the essence beyond the confines. With this first piece, I looked back on that which I sought to explore. Each canvas brings its own ...interest?... into the work. Is that even possible?
The latitude to flex as needed, to move beyond the constraints, that became the center of this painting.
Triumvirate: Tenses of Time
Below, at, above.
Past, present, future.
Soil, Land, Sky.
What does this one say to you?
I will say, the lines have meaning. The colors have meaning. The movement of the horses, or lack thereof, each of these are carefully considered.
Kinesic; Alcove Gestures
In that spirit, I wanted the area that is equivalent to that of the rectangle I had determined (12 x 7.4) to be filled with studies, in this case, of movement and the meanings that the movement conveys. I wanted them filled with life and vitality, to show that the use of numbers and measurements from the past are still with us today.
The horse appears to both embrace and be blocked by the reflections of the printed squares.