Writing about painted images can be as difficult as writing about music. How do you convey one art form in another? As a reviewer I can see that this could be difficult, but as the artist who created the painting, it should be easier. Especially when you start your paintings by writing about them, as I often do. On occasions when an image has not already popped into my head, I start by noting what I want to accomplish with the painting, the mood I am aiming for, maybe even some color ideas, or the conservation message behind the art. For me, words and images are inextricably linked.
Here are some of the notes I wrote before starting Ivory, shown above:
A different view of an elephant. Still needs to show bulk, detail of skin. An interesting composition, with space an important element. Hold your breath as an elephant quietly but impressively saunters by. Limit detail to head and top of trunk. Fade detail towards bottom of trunk. Yellow ochre and blues?
Once the painting is complete, some of those initial notes may still be relevant, but generally the painting will have taken on a life of its own and gone well beyond the (always hand-written) notes. So once again I write about the painting, this time creating a label, to be displayed alongside the art in an exhibit:
Original Acrylic on Board, 26×18”
In areas where elephants are relaxed around people & vehicles they will often walk very close. Then you really get to see the size and strength of the animal. It makes me hold my breath for a second. Unfortunately, this relaxed behavior is normally only found when elephants live in protected areas like national parks. In the Maasai Steppe elephants are far more likely to be wary of people due to poaching and incidents of human-wildlife conflict.
So my question to you is, do you want to read about a painting as well as see it?
Does the text enhance or destroy the experience?
Let me know!
Until next time…