Friday, May 21, 2010

simple complexity

The last three days produced a series of pieces with pleasing colors and patterns filling their spaces, but none approached the effect I wanted. Worse, I couldn't see where to go with several of them. On the plus side, I now have enough pieces hanging on my studio wall that I can peruse them and assess what's happening. When I compared the pieces to my mental image of what I want, knowing that they weren't quite right, what came to mind was that they lacked density. By that I meant, that they weren't layered enough, nuanced enough, complex enough.

Then, this morning, I remembered Rebecca Crowell's description of her work as "textured color fields...built up in layers." I realized that I had been putting too much color and textural complexity into a single layer, rather than allowing multiple layers to build up. In a sense, I was getting carried away with my enthusiasm for the medium and going too far in each step. I also was allowing my old habits of representation to demand a complexity and control of composition in a single sitting.

By treating (especially the initial) layers as "textured color fields" rather than complete compositions to be enhanced later, the density I seek will gradually build up. This is, to me, a more organic and natural approach; it goes back to the letting-it-happen of abstract painting, in contrast to forcing a predetermined composition that represents something.

This simpler approach to complexity also makes it easier not to include representation in any given piece, although I could do that at some point. If I want my montages to be responses to the landscapes around me, I will have to do so primarily through color (although texture and arrangement of the pieces will also contribute), and let viewers find the reference.

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