About the Painting

Four Things to Look for in My Paintings

The seed for this post was planted recently at a group show where my work was exhibited. I was having a pleasant conversation with an attendee, a woman who seemed to be enjoying her time in the gallery. She wanted to know which paintings were mine, and as we strolled around talking about various works, I began to point out several features, especially those that recurred. As our conversation closed, she thanked me in such a genuine way for increasing her appreciation of my work.

Later reflecting on the conversation, I realized that what is obvious to me can be hidden to the typical art lover. So what do I want people to look for in my work? This is a bit challenging, as so much of what I do is intuitive, but I’ll give it a try. Here are the features I’ve identified as being a part of almost every work I create, and how you might approach it.

Texture

Look for the tactile qualities of the work. Is it bumpy or gritty or fine? Smooth passages next to rough ones? Does the texture sit on the top layer of the painting, or at the very bottom? Does paint skip over the valleys and hit the ridges? Do raised lines define elements in the painting? Is there a passage of paint that looks corroded or worn? Do you want to touch the art? (Go ahead; I don’t mind.)

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Detail from Moon Over Canyon

 

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Detail from Deep Water

Pattern

I am drawn to all kinds of visual rhythm. As we respond to the beat in music, tapping our toes or bobbing our heads, so we can respond to the beat of the painting. Find something that is repeated. Do you notice a linear texture, or a swirl of concentric arcs, or a row of trees on the horizon? Is there a pattern of raised dots forming arcs or squares or lines? Is there an allover pattern, or is it random? What does the beat say to you? Straight lines are calm and serene; squares symbolize strength and stability; diagonals connote action; arcs and circles and spirals speak of energy.

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Detail from Dove in Mourning

 

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Detail from Prevailing Winds

Color

I’m willing to try any color or combination that advances the narrative I have in mind or the emotions I want to evoke. Consider how various colors make you feel. Do oranges and reds excite you? Do blues and greens give a sense of serenity? Do neutrals like white, ecru and tan make you feel quiet and calm? Do the colors tell a story, from reds and oranges in one part of the painting, to blues and purples in another section? Do the colors sing with each other in harmony or dissonance?

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Detail from Elements of Time

 

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Detail from Crosswise

Surprise

If you look closely, I’ll reward you with a small surprise, a little like an Easter egg behind the wildflowers. Are those linear elements made of vintage maps? Are there little gold or silver “pearls” tucked into a crevice of the texture? Does a shiny metallic pattern contrast with a softer earthy background? Viewing the painting from across the room is one experience. Engaging closely deepens it.

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Detail from Elements of Time

 

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Detail from My Jupiter

There are art professors, docents, curators, and art historians more qualified than I to teach art appreciation. This is just my attempt to help you enjoy what arises out of my artistic vision. Even though I had something in mind when I created the painting, please don’t be afraid to insert your own narrative. It’s your response that completes the work.

 

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Inspiration for Making Art

Junk, Castoffs, and Redemption

Painting is a passion for me. So many ideas present themselves, begging to be rendered on canvas. Really, there’s not enough time, canvas, or paint to get them all down. Even so, a break every now and then is a healthy thing. I’m doing that by taking on some personal work and experimenting with some new-to-me media in the process. I’ve set aside works on canvas for a bit and turned my attention to junk. Oh, excuse me. I mean “found objects.” You know. Junk.

The catalyst for delving into this new territory was the recent transformation of what had been a storage space and is now a workshop—my “she-shop.” During the clearing-out process, I discovered a treasure trove of materials. Many of them would be familiar to woodworkers, but I saw art supplies.

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Some items I rediscovered, like rusty metal parts that may have originated from the farm where I spent my childhood. Corrosion, strange shapes, and mysterious tools! What’s not to love! The battered wooden box that held them is waiting for its turn in the spotlight. Its lid, broken and mellowed by time, is already taking on a new life.

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There’s been a quite positive side effect to this recess from painting, by the way. I’ve scavenged the closets, kitchen drawers, and hidden crannies for all the doodads that have little purpose anymore except to be tossed–or turned into art. But I think there’s something deeper here. Something spiritual and redemptive happens when castoffs take on new purpose—or live out a purpose that might have been missed.They just need the opportunity to be what they will be.

Making art is good for the soul. So is cleaning out your junk. Making art from junk? I can’t help but think of Pablo Picasso’s quote: “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

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About the Painting

Strength with sweetness

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I wanted to create a painting with a sweep of color in the composition, something that might invoke a wave, or a transition from something powerful to something  still strong, but different in character. I began by laying down texture and covering it with strands of blue, various shades on top of one another. As the piece evolved, it became clear that there would be a field of pearlescence, the top right section in the view above. (Oenomel can be hung effectively either horizontally or vertically.)

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I began to add some warmth by overlapping reds, pinks, yellows, oranges, yellow–candy colors, I thought. I unified things by laying down the cool ocean colors alongside the candy colors. Some pearly gems appeared, like pops of jewelry. I built layer upon layer, finalizing the painting with splashes and splatters of contrasting colors–white, dark and medium blues, and whatever felt right at the time.

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The hardest part of creating this piece came in naming it. (Can’t seem to go with “Untitled.”) As I often do, I search my “Word of the Day” app, and stumbled across the word “oenomel,” which means “strength with sweetness,” like wine with honey. Perfect! Done!

Oenomel is a large painting, acrylics/mixed media on 20″ x 60″ gallery-wrapped canvas. As mentioned above, it can be installed vertically or horizontally, according to your preference. To see it both ways in context, click here and scroll down a bit in the Large Paintings section. Learn how to purchase this or any painting of your choice on the FAQ page.

Join me on Facebook and Instagram for behind-the-scenes peeks and first postings of new work.

All art is copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission. Copyright 2016 Laura Hunt


 

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About the Painting

Ocean wetness

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Ocean colors dominate Deep Water, with deep blues, sky blues, aquas and turquoises, blended with watery greens that all cooperate to immerse the viewer into the ebb and flow. Strips of topographical ocean maps collaged into the painting reinforce the wetness with their torn edges and shades of aqua.

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I created a highly textured section at the bottom that brings to mind the mystery of the ocean floor. The top section recalls the docks and piers made by human hands. If you look closely, you will see wave shapes I stamped into the design on handmade paper for a whimsical note. I think of them as a treat for those who take the time to dive into the experience of this painting. Final splatters of red, white, pale blue, and almost black blues offer the vitality that creatures contribute to the life of the sea.

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In planning a painting with water as the subject matter, I wanted to get beyond literal repetition of wave shapes. Each flowing form is different from the next, creating an overall impression of pattern, but with the constant change of  pattern elements. All this was developed over an underlying structure of textural marks that I find a necessary element in my work.

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We human beings seek out bodies of water. Rivers, lakes, ponds, oceans, even puddles, are places where we renew out souls. This tall, narrow painting creates the opportunity to dive deep into peace, cleansing, and regeneration. It’s well-suited to inhabit a narrow vertical space in your home or office, and to remind you of your favorite ocean dreams and seaside memories.

Deep Water is an acrylics/mixed media painting, 20” x 60” on gallery-wrapped canvas. See it in context here, and learn about the purchase process on the FAQ page.

Join me on Facebook and Instagram for behind-the-scenes peeks and first postings of new work.

All art is copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission. Copyright 2016 Laura Hunt

 

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