Working non-objectively is freeing-- subject to no, er, subject. Like the abstract expressionists of the last century (Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell), my decisions flow organically and the outcome is more a record of the action than a fulfillment of a plan. I am influenced and inspired by what I observe visually and conceptually but rarely show it more tangibly than a juxtaposition of colors or a suggestion of a form. When I do work to a plan it is enjoyable and stretches me. The painting below, "Coloratura," reflects something in between planned and unplanned, non-objective and representational.
After a few months of building up this 3 x 3 ft mosaic, there was a period when it became a bit of a chore. It swallowed up endless strips of paint with little impact. But then a poem I wrote for my mother gave me a new perspective on it, and a clear point of view for finishing it.
He paces on the porch
cocking his head left and right,
straining to see her through the window.
In a flash of feathered finery
he retreats to the crepe myrtle,
more brilliant than the blossoms to come.
She takes up her perch
scanning porch and garden,
searching for him through the window.
In a streak of red flirtation
he gives her his famous fly by,
more blessing for the day to come.
True story! Cardinals have a thing for my mother. I don't believe cardinals are passed loved ones; heaven wouldn't be heaven if we looked back. Angels? Nah. In the Bible they appear as seeeriously buff men. But the point is, after observing the phenomenon for years, I think cardinals have a thing for my mother. Keeping pace with her on walks, fly bys galore, and, on one lovely day in June, looking for her through the window by her favorite chair. When I see a cardinal my heart leaps and I think of my beautiful mother. The day after the cardinal paced in front of the window and gave her the fly by, I wrote the poem above in minutes. Then Mom and I talked once more of cardinals and angels and blessings. Within a couple days I hit the studio to bring this mosaic to the birds. A tiny cardinal is tucked in safe, hints of birds filling the skies as they have since Creation, their morning chorale coming from all directions. Singers seen and unseen, full of color and decorating the air with extravagant music. Coloratura.