Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Never-Ending Series: Syncopated

Some quickly, some slowly - that's the story of life and of art.

Back in the spring I began a new series that was similar to my Running Stitch series except that the pieces of materials I was cutting up and combining on panels were bigger and required fewer tacks to hold in place. And, rather than emphasizing the horizontal, this new series emphasized the diagonal.

Iphone photo of "Triple Play," 24" x 24", mixed media on panel

Now here it is nearly the end of October and I am just finishing up this series that I have decided to call "Syncopated." So far there are 13 pieces in a range of sizes. Most were begun in the spring, but I was unable to complete them due to other commitments. Now just one is left to complete so that I can move on. The series is not finished but this group is - at least for the time being.

Meaning, Intention, Motivation
I haven't written a statement about this work yet, and despite the opinion of some people, writing a statement is the hard work that really helps me understand what I am doing. In the meantime, I can share some of the more obvious reasons for making this work - at least obvious to me.

Iphone photos of two untitled works, each 36" x 36"

How I Work
Besides my being ready for a change, working diagonally actually gives me a much more expansively playful feeling. The way I work is to have lots of materials around - paintings that I prepare on heavy stock, album covers, books, advertising materials, cardboard, and anything else that seems to have potential for use. I work intuitively by placing pieces of these materials on the panels and observing how color, shape, texture, value and placement affect the whole panel as well as other proposed pieces.  Looking is the most important part of the process.

Iphone photo of "Legs," 18" x 12", mixed media on panel

Why "Syncopated?"
"In music, syncopation includes a variety of rhythms which are in some way unexpected in that they deviate from the strict succession of regularly spaced strong and weak but also powerful beats in a meter(pulse). These include a stress on a normally unstressed beat or a rest where one would normally be stressed. "If a part of the measure that is usually unstressed is accented, the rhythm is considered to be syncopated." - from Princeton University online.

Rhythm plays an important role in my choices by allowing me to play with a regular beat and change that up by putting in surprising accents. The strange thing is that while I am aware of the list of qualities that influence my choices, there are often subconscious influences that I do not see until after the painting is provisionally completed and hung on the wall. There is the illusion of transparency, for example, (as pointed out on Facebook by Shawn Hill in "Triple Play" or the illusion of swirling deep space at the center of "Legs."

Iphone photo of untitled work, 24" x 24", mixed media on panel

Lines, Lines, Those Lines
Why, you may wonder, do I have all those black lines in these works? Some people have said that the lines make the elements stand out from each other and look like stained glass, others that the lines seem unnecessary. Well, it turns out that the lines have both an aesthetic and functional purpose. The lines offer their own addition to the rhythm, grid or arrangement of the elements and function as spaces between elements that allow for movement and fluctuations caused by humidity. The lines are filled in with black encaustic.

Cutting lines in an already completed work

Cutting to the Chase
The need to allow for expansion and contraction of the elements means that the pieces I use can't be too large. I discovered this after the fact when too-large elements in some works began bulging. I had to cut spaces into them and move some tacks. The piece above is the final work that needs this cutting alteration and once it's repaired, professional photos can be take, and, at long last, I can move on.

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