a multi-disciplinary dialog
Posted by David on November 3rd, 2006
testing, 1, 2…
Filed in painting
“Hey, somebody get that guy off my feet,” said the bird.
I realize this was only a test post, but I like it a lot the way it is. Minimal, striking, a big surprise. On Art News Blog there was a comment that Art & Perception is “cerebral”. I think they meant it as a compliment, but still, art should be more than that. I think a post with almost no words is perfect.
The colors are wonderful. Black and yellow is an irritating combination, which is perfect for a painting of a crow on somebody’s head.
We have been discussing contrast of warm and cool. I think in this picture, the black and subtle grays of the crow, and the green of the shirt, play this role. If the crow were warmer (a dark dark brown, say), the picture might not work — it might seem too warm all over. An interesting test for photoshop.
Glad you like the painting! Karl, I agree that black and yellow can be an irritating combo. It reminds me of school buses, which brings back all kinds of bad memories. Not that I was thinking of that when I painted it :)
Since it was a test, it raises a couple of questions for me. Firstly, how do I stop getting an e-mail each time a comment is posted? I like reading them here, but would prefer not to get e-mail notices each time one is posted.
Also, I have a question about uploading images, which I’ll post on the “Comments on the Site” thread. I had trouble uploading one, and finally gave up and created a link to the image on my website, which is what you see above.
Karl, it’s a very funny comment, but it also reminds me of something my grad adviser and color theory teacher said in class. He said “how do we know the fly isn’t holding up the horse?” His point was that we bring a lot of prior knowledge and ideas into any interpretation of visual information.
David – look for an upcoming section somewhere on this site for a tutorial on uploading images in wordpress. It’s a 2 step process – 1) upload the file then 2) place it into your post. They are very distinct actions that both must be completed for it to work. Personally I find the interface irritating (more than black and yellow).
Think about how irritating James McNeill Whistler must have been; considering how much he used black and yellow.
He sure irritated John Ruskin :)
A bird on the head is a motif of african masks. – I cannot get this picture out of my mind. What strikes me is the contrast between the raven and the person in terms of their different energies.
Discussing this picture with my friend Brigitte, we discovered our different feelings about ravens. She sees ravens as negative energy and I see them as positive enery.
That’s for sure, David. From what I’ve read, Whistler was a bit of a tough character, and wasn’t shy to share his opinions. Besides, for every irratating color combination, God has seen to it that nature will use those exact colors in the most exceptionally beautiful ways; like dark storm clouds silhouetted by dry wheat fields in sunlight.
Birgit, I didn’t know that about the African masks. Thanks for letting me know!
This is one in a series of 3 double self-portraits, each w/ myself and the raven. I thought of the bird as representing in inner psychological entity, and the relationship between the bird and the person is different in each one. In this one their energies are different, but I think more or less equal. The other two are called “Burdened” and “Influence”. They’re on my website if you want to check them out, in the American Dreams section.
I’m glad you put up a picture. I was hoping you would. I totally checked out all the pictures on you web site. I’d love to hear you talk about them. Like, what is the significance of the Raven to you? And how about that kid on the ladder with the plane… It’s like the kid’s falling into the sky. It gives me vertigo.
I liked looking at the progressive developments in your linoleum work too. There’s a story there. For example, I looked at them before I read everything, and I was enjoying what I saw as a spacious cosmography, and then I saw that you were looking at microcosms made big. Some of those ones are huge, no?
I see you answered my raven question, David. I should heve clicked ‘refresh’ before I sent up the comment.
Rex, thanks for your kind words about my work.
Most of the imagery I painted during that period (1990-2000) is what I consider a kind of dream realism. Some of the images actually came from dreams, some not, but the goal was to create the types of images you are left with in the morning when you are just waking up, just coming out of a dream state. They generally (each person’s dream images) have an emotional resonance that is beyond explanation, a sort of psychological power, that I was trying to achieve in the paintings. I don’t think of them as having much in common w/ surrealism (Dali, Magritte), but as operating in a somewhat different realm. Gabriel Garcia Marquez and David Lynch were a couple of my influences. Woody Allen too :)
One of the seed ideas for the series w/ ravens was, as one might guess, Poe’s poem. I always thought of the raven in his poem as an inner voice, not an actual bird, and I was playing with showing the different relationships the various parts of our psyche have with each other. The bird that modeled for me was Dino, a raven that a friend of mine rescued as a baby bird and raised. But I had several sketches for the series in my journals before I ever met Dino, so the idea wasn’t based on this particular bird, he was just an actor.
I should probably say here that the images in these paintings weren’t calculated to mean a particular thing. They just sort of appeared, and as I developed them I would think about all the different things they might be about. I feel like they are most successful when they can mean several things at once. They are less like stories than like visual poems.
The kid on the ladder with the plane is one of two large paintings I was doing about airplanes coming into land. I had just finished creating CG (computer graphic) airplanes for the movie Air Force One, and had spent a lot of time down at the edge of the LAX runway watching the planes come in. The two paintings, JFK and LAX were hanging side by side on the wall of my studio while I worked on them, and then JFK junior died in a plane crash. Another painting on my website, Climber, was also in the studio (already finished), and I got the idea to put the boy in the JFK painting with the airplane. It ended up being about the JFK trinity of father, son and airport.
This is getting a bit long, so I’ll talk about my linoleums some other time, but I’ll just say that they were initailly inspired by looking out airplane windows at the ground, but evolved into something else.
Ah. I read your last comment with great pleasure, David. That’s some good material — the basis for another post. I hope you’re willing to repeat yourself a bit (and expand on it).
Thanks so much. I’ll probably do a few posts about other things first, but will be happy to write something more about my work at a later time. I don’t like to focus on myself too much. There are a lot of other things out there to be explored :)
The raven and you have reached a compromise – coexistence?
Birgit, I think you are entirely correct. The other two paintings in the series show different relationships between human abd bird.
In this one, Burdened, the bird is perhaps more dominant. And this one, Influence, shows another type of relationship.
Here are the URLs, in case my links don’t work:
Having taking Yoga for a few years now, some of the culture has rubbed off and I have learned about chakras. The blue backgrounds in the ‘influence’ picture, with the transposed beak, could speak for the throat chakra, said to be related to communication; the red background would refer to the sacral chakra, related to creativity; and the beautiful yellow would signify the energy of the solar plexus. – I hope I am not too weird.
Digging in the dirt to transplant baby juniper for a future bird sanctuary, I realized that, above, I was wrong. Red stands for the root (not the sacral) chakra that connect to the earth energies.
Birgit, no interpretation is too wierd for me. Besides I do yoga too (Iyengar). While I wasn’t specifically thinking of chakra colors in choosing the backgrounds, that’s certainly a valid observation. Thanks!