For the past few years, I have made use of a color’s fifths. By that I mean using the color triangle (as I wrote below in the entry “The Color Triangle: Mixing Pigments”) to determine the fifth colors from a root color and use that relationship to determine pigment mixtures.

The color-triangle_Yellow-Blue-Red-Orange; note that the colors purple, violet, red-violet, and red would be adjusted so that their intensity would lie along the edge of the shaded triangle.

Using yellow as the root and basing the chord on the Pythagorean right triangle of 3, 4, 5; the other chord colors are red-orange and blue; red-orange is three from yellow, blue is four. On the color/note wheel, yellow is A, blue is C#, and red-orange is F#. This gives us the following right triangle:

The yellow, blue, and red-orange chord with yellow’s fifths: red-violet and purple; the fifths of the other two colors are indicated.

it is also possible to keep yellow as the root color; but make the four side yellow to red, and the three side yellow to blue green. In this case, red-violet possesses the relationship purple had in the above figure; and purple now possess the relationship red-violet had.

The right triangle shows yellow at the right angle and the movement is clockwise to blue and then red-orange. Let’s call the right angle position the root position; therefore, yellow is the root color.

I then indicated with red lines the two colors that are fifths of yellow: red-violet and purple. As can be seen in the above figure, the fifths of the other colors in the triad are:

• the fifths of blue are red-orange and yellow-orange;
• the fifths of red-orange are blue and green.

Note that the fifth red-violet divides the hypotenuse – five color range – in a natural manner into three and two. Whereas, purple seems to be in a relationship to blue as though it was its sharp : C to C# so to speak. The natural division may be a reason why the yellow-red-violet relationship seems more attractive.

I played “put the fifths descending from yellow.”

I discovered in one of my failed acrylic paintings that using the fifth of a color gives air or breath to the painting at the same time it is creating distance between colors.

In painting these fifths, one’s eyes become accustomed to the relationship between a color and its fifth; so, it becomes easy to determine when one has mixed the true fifth. Here is a key understanding: one can train his eye to recognize the particular relationship he is seeking: the color relationship, when achieved just seems to harmonize; there is a visual “yes”; in fact, many times when the right color is found, the color just seems to disappear.

The relationship creates an implied line between the two colors; in fact, the color intensities withing the relationship can be adjusted to incorporate an emphasis on a compositional power line or intersection of the implied power lines.

My use of the fifth has become an integral part of my painting, not only because of the breath the fifth seems to give; but also, because the painting seems to come alive

September Composition 2013

The first of two created in September and October of 2013.

Seven rectangles make up the above work;These rectangles in turn create the levels or depths of the digital painting.The rectangle in the lower right is the key for the digital painting: it sets the color chords and the pattern of the shapes.

Each rectangle is organized using the bipartite method. The method is a means of describing the implied, energy lines embedded in the rectangle.

The basic principle used here is that the eye seeks out similarity in color, pattern, and shape. The viewer’s eye will of its own accord move to and from complete and incomplete versions of the key pattern found in the various rectangles; focusing on any one position of an element within that pattern moves the eye to its counterpart in the other rectangles. The same is true of the movement of color from rectangle to rectangle.

Finally, I used the empty energy loci within the larger implied rectangle to create a second movement to play against the first pattern.

October Composition 2013

The Second Composition

The principles used in the first painting apply to this one as well. I made three major changes: first I introduced a diagonal movement in each rectangle – other than the key – moving from the quarter point on the left side to the lower third point on the right; second, I removed the rectangle bounds and let the eye apprehend the rectangles; and third, I created another movement joining the key pattern and the diagonal pattern by darkening a glyph within each pattern.

Creating digital compositions while I wait for oil grounds to dry. This is the second version of one I have worked on over the past three days.

Meditation on an Aloe II
Digital composition
original size 13″ x 20″

Several years ago I created a web site for an artists’ guild to which I belonged to at the time; on that now defunct site, I created a page on how to hang an exhibition. The image below is a screen shot from that page.

Screen shot of instructions: click to enlarge.

The simple instructions were based on kinesthetic and visual principles:

• The visual energy of an artwork is the key to placement in an exhibit;
• Movement around the room is based on the focal length of the art work: this is the distance at which the piece is apprehended; the energy of the piece will force you to move the proper distance to perceive it;
• Determine how the viewer is going to move naturally through the gallery space: clockwise or counter-clockwise;
• Work should be arranged so that the movement around the room is a gentle flow: the shifting from one focal length to the next is not abrupt;
• Keep similar energies together (back in the eighties, I was accused of having a corner for bad artists: no, it was based on energy: unfortunately a good artist was placed in the same spot because of similar energies);
• The focal length of a piece should not force you against a wall: this would be the case if you hung a strong piece in a narrow hallway;
• Use focal length to determine where to put a sculpture in a room with paintings: a viewer looking at paintings should not bump into someone looking at a sculpture; worse yet, the focal length of the painting should not lead the viewer to bump into the sculpture;
• Use the energy of the works to determine spacing between pieces: keep moving the artwork apart until the energies release;
• The longest focal length is where you are walking into the room; therefore, the strongest pieces – those having the most energy – are opposite the doorway;
• The height of the artwork is determined by hanging the center of the piece five feet from the floor; if there is a group, arrange the group and have the center of the group be five feet high.

As a colorist, I am disgusted by the color change acrylic paint undergoes as it dries. the image below demonstrates the change:

RGB representation of the scale of raw sienna to raw umber plus two steps just before gray.

The color scale is based on the RGB scale of Raw Sienna to Raw Umber: the A corresponds to Raw Umber; A# and B are two steps below it short of gray. Raw Siena is analogous to C.
This means I will have to return to oil paints. I will finish the two I am currently working on, but most of the work done in the past four years is worthless.

Examples of how a shape can be created,

This post is a first installment on this subject.

The power of an artist derives from his intellect and his interaction with form.I learned this concept early; yet it grew in importance over the passing decades.

I first expressed this concept in the above manner in the thesis I wrote as an undergraduate: then it was simply an expression of how one may view an object: as a swelling form, as a collapsing form, or as a static form; this is easily translatable into the academic use of positive and negative space. In graduate school, when I was still doing retinal drawing and painting, I was instructed to feel the movement of a line (parabola) as it moved around the form of the model; as my mentor Peter Agostini was involved in creating a swelling human shape (look up prana).

[An aside: Peter Agostini had been involved with the creation of swelling forms from early in his career: inflated inner tubes (I didn’t see any but he did describe working with them), plaster balloons, and large swollen heads; this consideration of swelling from within carried over into his representation of the human figure and that of the horse. I did not realize Peter had comprehended prana until I spent an overnight in his studio when I drove his “Old Man” sculpture up to NYC: on a shelf over the entrance to his studio, he had displayed a few small figurines of Indian sculptures exhibiting prana. I first learned of this quality of inner swelling from George Weber but had not seen it directly applied until I saw Peter’s work. The figure to the left in the above image illustrates prana.]

Later on, while still in graduate school, I did a quick what if experiment and learned that if I held an objects’ position in relation to its environment in my visual field, the drawing carried the expression or feeling of the objects spacial relationships. The what if experiment was to retinally multiple focus on a column and on the cabinet doors behind it and to include an awareness of the space between them: The few strokes I put down conveyed in their meaning the spacial relationship of the original objects.

[aside two: when I refer to drawing from the retinal image, I mean that I had learned to draw an object while looking at the object and not at the drawing. the image below is an example.]

An example of looking at the object and not the image as I drew.

This manner of drawing continued until the early 1980s when my mind simply stopped wanting to be enslaved to the retinal image. I had to find a way to move inward that would satisfy my imagination.

To be continued.

Digital Composition
October 2012

I began doing digital compositions as a way to make quick compositional and color decisions: Photoshop enables the artist to make rapid decisions over a few minutes that might take days or weeks when done in paint. I began doing compositions of arranged abstract elements put together to create a meaningful composition.

Beginning in 2008, I was inspired by two musical references: the first was an off hand remark by some commentator that a renowned composer had recommended to the composer of “Porgie and Bess” the use of the diminished fifth; the second was listening to Leonard Cohen’s song, “Hallelujah” wherein he sings of “the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, and the major lift” (up to now, I thought that was “the fourth, the fifth, the minor fourth, the major fifth”; so my compositions were worked out accordingly).

I continued my experiments in composition and rhythm but now included using the color triangle to realize what I thought corresponded to Cohen’s musical reference. I began doing research on the musical chords using the piano keyboard as a guide. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to ask a rocker musician, friend Tom Chaffee about the color chords. He quickly drew a circle and laid out the twelve chords around it. This was major revelation for me; I had never seen them laid out in this manner.
Tom explained how a musician might decide to play with the intervals between the notes to arrive at unique styles. I took this chart home and superimposed the color over the notes:

One can come up with a different layout, but I was interested in relationships and intervals.
After creating this color/chord wheel, I decided to experiment using my favorite country singer Emmylou Harris: I was curious about her statement about “singing the three chord blues” from her song “The Road.” I then located on line lyrics to a few of her songs and noted the chord changes and experimented with corresponding color changes.
Below: my most recent piece: