Arresting the Viewer

"Just in Time!"
watercolor 22 x 15 inches

There comes a time in every artist's development that he or she see's the ordinary through different eyes.   For me, I believe that I am just awakening to the wonder of what confronts me on a daily basis.   In my last blog post, I commented on the fact that I had awakened to early morning light.   Yes, I always knew it was there, but had not paid much attention.   

This painting, above, was of a gent caught in crossing the street in the early morning on his way to work (I suppose.)    It wasn't him that caught my attention, but the light and shadow on the side of the building with him thrown into the mix.   Geometric shapes all aligned and the human figure thrown in for contrast.   I doubt you could say this is an extraordinary painting idea.   Surely, paintings like this have been done before.   

There is something about taking the common . . . .the mundane . . . .the ho humm . . . .and exalting it to the extraordinary.   I think it was Bob Burridge, years ago, who stunned me into realization by painting ordinary coffee cups.   I can still see those paintings in my mind's eye!   Coffee cups fer gawd sakes???   Gads!   I trip over them.   They always seem to be in the way!   What painter would stop long enough to infuse beauty or some stunning attribute into them?!   He sure did.  And the affects were extraordinary!

How many of us have seen people crossing a street?   How many times?   My guess is that we see them long enough to stop our car if we are driving, in order to avoid hitting them.   But to really notice something about them and their surroundings might be a big reach for most of us.   I have to say that it is those painters who can make a common face, a coffee cup, a pedestrian, a piece of fruit seem way out of the ordinary that make us all take true notice of their work.   

When you think about it, there are literally MILLIONS of paintings and attempts at paintings that try to capture the magnitude and scope of fabulous scenes.   So, why follow the mob?   I have found that the paint is often the most fascinating subject of a painting.   If arrangements of textures and colors and shapes can hold our attention in fascination, then what difference does a subject make?   Actually, I hesitate to say, subject is hardly what drives our fascination.   It is how we compose and arrange Edges, Shapes, Colors, Textures etc. that holds a viewer's attention . . . . .not a subject.   All the subject does is provide the beginnings of the arrangement of those elements.   

Note the granulation of the violet in the painting above . . . .in fact, when you click on the image, you can see how violet and yellow were used to imply flashy lighting.   Putting the cool shadows of a white shape against that arrangement of shape and color set up an attention grabbing contrast that the viewer cannot resist.

It really isn't what we paint.   It is HOW we paint it that arouses and arrests the viewer.