Sunday, January 16, 2011

Painting Black on Black

The boots illustration in my previous post is about as frivolous as art can be, but it was both fun and more of a challenge than it appears. My day-job-art is somewhere between semi-serious and 'exactly what exciting shade of light gray is this building?' The drawings I'm doing for my blog are an outlet for amusement, somewhat empty-headed expression and color (I've used gray and beige as little as possible.) The challenge surfaced as I became more aware of how I should paint shades of black on black suede boots and black tights. It would have been easier if the boots were tan with shadows, or shiny leather with reflections.

Ad Reinhardt's series of black paintings came to mind. Recently, while at the Museum of Modern Art, 'Abstract Expressionist New York' exhibit, I entered a doorway and found a large, black Reinhardt piece positioned directly across from the entrance. At first, I thought about moving closer to look for the subtleties I have been told are there. I people-watched instead. There were about two dozen people gathered in front, taking turns moving closer, then back a few feet. Most had arms folded over their chests, heads tilted with wrinkled foreheads. Mixed in were the usual complement of smaller humans, texting, playing Nintendo, or whirling around while staring into space. This was an interesting piece of performance art. I imagined microphones dangling from the ceiling overhead, and an interactive playback device where one could hear the thoughts of those staring into the black hole. I imagined what they would say and what they thought they should say.

A wandering-mind is an interesting side effect of painting lighthearted subjects.

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