I: Descriptions of paintings are a guide, not an absolute. Some paintings would fit in other categories as well.
Circulation Through Changes is inspired by the idea that we live through cycles of day and night but the circulation of blood within us goes on unchanged.
Diving for Swirls is shows a single form with repeating intervals slicing through a network of interlocking lines with a different color schemata. Here there is a clearly delineated separation between colors having dramatic contrasts and colors with more subdued contrasts.
Standing Dancing Flying is a further exploration into the way curving and jagged lines are viewed when parallel as compared to when they are intersecting, as well as the way colors are seen when adjacent to similar colors compared to their relationship to dissimilar colors. It relates to any kind of separateness. Naturally the pandemic forced everyone into a major rethinking of separateness. I was thinking autonomous, each abstract organism relates to itself. The greens were a challenge. Greens can often relate to blues so I chose greens which had as little relationship to blue as possible. Also bright greens near reds can create a kind of visual buzz which unites them. That too is something I was looking to avoid. The commonality is that each shape has 14 sides or points and with seven intersecting lines. For the background parallel lines I chose colors that would unify the shapes in a casual fluid way that would neither bind them together nor further separate them. I used over 60 colors in this painting.
Triangle Octet shows eight triangles, two on the horizontal axis, two on the vertical axis and two on each of the diagonal axes, intersected by four lines running northwest to southeast and four running northeast to southwest. It shows a merging of continuity and discontinuity in a kaleidoscopic effect.
Twisted Yet Unbroken I was thinking of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Dark force descending and disrupting the threads of ordinary life. A friend said it reminded him of an abstract arial view of the chaotic highway system of Los Angeles.
Clusters and Streamers is a return to my op art basics of line, color and movement while continuing with my interest in a spiral or vortex. Familiar and unexpected color relationships play off of each other as each curved line connects to a rotating set of straight lines.
Writhing Diamond is the first of several paintings using a diamond shape. It shows the interaction of centrifugal and centripetal movements and perspective in contrast to reverse perspective. I've allowed the colors to go beyond usual warm/cool, dark/light boundaries of my earlier large-scale paintings to emphasize constant variability.
Circulation of Rainbows is based on an earlier drawing. I wanted to get many different types of color relationships swirling around and through each other.
Mitosis, from a drawing done during a trip my wife Debbi and I took to Costa Rica. The profusion of life in the rain forests prompted it. The blue sections are uninterrupted from top to bottom, whereas the other colors are divided by a horizontal line. This corresponds to the way blues appear in skies or oceans, seemingly infinite compared to the other colors that don’t evoke infinity in the same way.
Flotation, Tectonic Bouquet Symbiosis are from a series of six-foot square paintings I did at the height of my interest in pure color theory and its relationship to music, especially minimalism and ambient music. All colors and contrasts were determined in advance of application to the canvas.
Carnival. Here I decided to abandon the grid and just have fun and let the forms play.
Tuning Fork is about color vibrations, chromatic ripples multiplying as they get further from their origin.
Fulcrum uses a strong light/dark contrast to show the union of triangles against a neutral earth color field. I did this painting after returning from a trip Debbi and I took to Ireland, inspired by the Celtic knot. There are four orbits that begin autonomously but then intersect whenever they meet.
Commingling Polarities allows the viewer to see conventional and reverse perspective simultaneously. I kept the curved forms simple for this relationship to be clear.
Aerodynamics evokes the turning of a propeller where the movement carries the forms it affects and determines their rotation.
Sparked Opposites contains a variety of color families interacting. Parallel lines and their luminous but muted backgrounds are a chorus to the lead singers which are the warm and cool forms and their varying metallic, translucent and opaque saturated colors and zig-zag lines. I was thinking of the relationship between jagged lines and curved lines which create a certain active dynamic. The principal colors represent fire and ice, both of which are behaving badly in the era of climate change.
Circulation Within Shadows was inspired by the recent solar eclipse, the light behind everything, how whatever we see by day is in front of the sun and therefore it's all in shadow relative to the luminosity of the sun.
Zippier Counterpoint is based on a b/w pen & ink drawing I did earlier. Sometimes it's fun to delve into older ideas and bring them back to life in a new way. I decided to relate the colors to each other in ways that keep the eyes constantly moving, using earth tones to balance colors that would otherwise clash at times. Ribbon Dance was the first of the translucent/opaque series. The series begins with a twofold fascination. First is with the way layers of translucent colors mix and interact in comparison to the way opaque colors do this. Next I like the way curvilinear lines bounce off the edges of the triangle and their forms are determined accordingly. Playing with magnets was something I enjoyed doing as a kid. The triangle itself is a fascinating shape to work with, restless boundaries, seemingly 'looking' for the fourth side.
Butterfly to Boomerang shows a conjoined network of lines within facing triangles spanning across and partially covering another network of lines.
Clustered Lifelines was the natural follow-up to Ribbon Dance, giving each triangle its own color range, while allowing some colors to share more than one triangle.
Septagon Swirl shows seven septagons, a.k.a. heptagons, each within the other. A single curved line emerges from the periphery and travels to the center. On one side of the line are metallic or semi-metallic colors, while on the other side of the line are non-metallic colors. The line traverses seven different color schemata.
Torchlight Prism shows light and heat coming up from below rather than from above. Each facet of the heptagon becomes a side of a form that picks up light according to its characteristic color schemata. It's a bouquet, or as one viewer noted, a lollipop.
Heptagon Rotation continues both my fascination with the heptagon and equilateral triangles, as well as that of combining regular and iridescent colors, as in Emerge and Submerge. The heptagon itself is an interesting shape, seven-sided, between the hexagon and octagon. Hexagons and octagons are quite common- bricks and tiles, honeycombs, stop signs, etc., but heptagons are not really part of our everyday reality: the unfamiliar hidden between familiar shapes.
Emerge and Submerge is a division of forms that make use of the boundaries of the hexagon to form an asymmetrical division of shapes. The top colors are iridescent and the bottom colors are more subdued, evoking a vessel submerged in liquid.
Swirling Octagon Vortex is my second painting using an expanding octagon grid. It shows continuous movement of light/dark contrast playfully interacting with the grid.
Drunken Spider, Quadrant Variations, Orbiting Apertures make use of four different grid systems around which common forms circulate. Continuity and discontinuity are balanced and suspended by the orbiting lines. In the top two quadrants of Drunken Spider the straight lines go over and under each other, while in the bottom two quadrants they intersect other.
Fire Juggler shows an abstract entity suspended within four quadrants, with fiery projections.
Playing with Magnets relates to the fun I had as a kid playing with magnetic polarities, connection vs. opposition.
Prism of Pinnacles shows an octagonal vortex grid in the center and this grid breaking up at its diamond peripheries, unified by a single connecting curvilinear line.
Roseheart in Limelight is a nocturnal painting based around a single line turning in on itself. The connecting straight lines act as an internal structure that holds the line in place as it twists and turns from periphery to center.
Life on Venus is a color fantasy. If we could stand on the inhospitable surface of Venus, what colors might we see? And if there were native organisms that could survive those conditions, what colors would they perceive in a world of perpetual heat? Figures
Figures within the abstract. Parallel to my abstract painting is my love for drawing from the life model. These paintings show a merging of my color field methodology with the figure. The figures appearing in these works are from drawings ranging from one to twenty minutes. I look over my drawing pads and find figures that work together as a composition. As for the narrative, I think of ancient Egyptian friezes before the Rosetta Stone gave us translations- a story is being told but the meaning is a mystery. Many of these paintings are based on life drawings done at Spring Studio, NYC (aka Minerva Durham's Studio) and the Art Students League of New York. Many thanks go to the fine models who have made it possible to further my understanding of the human figure.
Surrounded by Heat was motivated by all the heat waves and fires happening everywhere during the summer of 2023. We're trying to stay cool while surrounded by a growing awareness of things heating up.
Humanoid Scaffold is a diversion wherein yellow figures as Lilliputians are playing on a kind of Robo-Gulliver. I suppose it could represent how we're being subsumed by AI but I'm not sure I intended it to be something heavy like that. It's also a way of working with primary colors in an unconventional setting.
Caught in a Time Wave (thanks to my cousin Paul Wortman for the title) is my response to the vortex of bad news we're getting from the pandemic, economy, politics and climate change and more. It seems like a cycle without end. We're trapped within our domains waiting out the virus and what kind of normal may emerge. The figures were done from imagination but inspired by short poses at Spring Studio.
The Party That Wasn't was my initial response to the continuing sense of separation and fragmentation caused by the coronavirus crisis. The four corners represent the four places where the strings are attached to face masks. Jagged forms suggest disconnection or broken connections. The two curved lines are the cheekbones over which the eyes look out beyond the mask. My initial title was Fragmentation without Mercy. As usual I can't stay away from upbeat colors so a bleak title like that just didn't quite work.
Human Equation is quite simply male and female electricity.
Emerging from Spheres was done in March 2020, when suddenly coronavirus became the only thing on anyone's mind. The figures are counterparts yet they are separated by a widening gulf that prohibits their interaction. Hot and warm colors suggest fever, we’re in hot water, the heat is on. I introduced the dark colors right around the time it became clear to me that coronavirus had become a growing global and local menace. At that point it was almost impossible to think about anything else.
Faceted Fire Shaft is about reaching for the light that illuminates, or becoming the light that we wish to illuminate.
Eye of the Day shows two dancers stretching. The figures are darker than the background. In keeping with the abstract idea of foreground and background being interchangeable, the background mirrors the movement of the figures.
Day Surges Night Merges was done during a very wet summer. I was recalling dryer times on the Greek island of Milos, where Debbi and I went the year before. Desert earth colors against the Aegean blues. Purples lend a splash of mystery.
Existing Before They Arrived permits all colors to be everywhere, no color separation of figures and background. The space the figures inhabit was there before they arrived and upon departure contains the traces of their having been.
Fire and Ice employs figure/background reversal- reds on blues vs. blues on reds. Black, white and gray exist primarily to separate the two sections. The figures are both looking down at something, which unites them spatially.
Shifting the Blues. She moves the space that he’s holding onto.
Sunset. A dance within the colors of late afternoon.
Diving Platform. Holding on and letting go, with colors of spring.
Luminescing in Tandem. Figures suddenly appear luminous against a darker background.
See-Saw. To and fro, they’re having fun.
II: Artist Statement
To summarize my intentions as an artist, I look at the many ways that nature-based and system-based forms can be made to interact within a field of colors which themselves contain sequences of varying degrees of predetermination or spontaneity.
I paint across line, rhythm, color, luminosity, harmony and vitality, moved by the balance of emotion and perception, joy and logic, the intuitive and the analytical.
Living at the crossroads of city and country, the constructed interacts with the natural, the predetermined with the spontaneously arising.
Swinging on the pendulum between the figurative and the geometric, the reflective and the energized, an exciting place to be calm, be agitated.
In love with colors and the virtually endless ways they relate to each other, I often liken color relationships to musical scales. Music is a constant for me and I enjoy discovering new ways of transforming notes into colors.
Lines and colors create the forms of their own continual interaction. Perpetual motion moves me. Forms are passing through time and space, always passing through.
A merging of linear and curving forms corresponds to the way motion occurs in human constructs such as cities and transportation systems. We exist within predetermined structures or grids, where our movements are circumscribed and yet there is fluidity in the ways we navigate these systems.
Shifting realities, looking down from the sky at a tiny house on the ground, looking up from the earth at the distant plane passing through the sky. Form is in the places where viewpoints intersect.