Exotic Shapes and Colors Upon Wood Grain
Sometimes it is fun to experiment with different grounds for an acrylic painting, searching for a suitable surface beyond the typical canvas or heavy duty artist's stock. With this painting I found that the grain structures on a wood surface can provide perfect shapes and textures for an imaginary scene in an atmospheric island setting. Back in the 1960's I remember watching a television program entitled "Adventures in Paradise" which featured the exotic tropical beauties of the South Pacific. Even in Southern California along the coastline and in Southern Florida along the Keys one may come face to face with the allure of the ocean environment and the unique colors of seascapes and stretches of sandy beach. This particular set of patterns on wood grain sparked an imaginative blend of shapes, colors and "island euphoria." When acrylics are diluted with water they often act like wood stains as utilized in the making of fine furniture or wood products. The artist can obtain some very subtle effects by working with the textures and patterns observed and highlighting certain areas via lighter or darker hues. I added some further points of interest by using acrylic gesso and white paint in a stippling technique, almost reminiscent of the French pointillist painter Georges Seurat (1859-1891), one of my favorite artists. The gloss acrylic medium provides a nice sheen to the overall picture, but you can also obtain an evocative dry effect by designating certain areas as alternative contours painted with matte medium to vary the visual characteristics of the scene.
Since 1978 I have lived in Arizona and found the beauty of the skies and landscapes here to be unsurpassed. While traveling on one of my many journeys to the lakes and canyons of this State, I came across a series of landscapes which captivated my sense of space, imagination and unparalleled atmosphere. On the road to Saguaro Lake I stopped the car just to take in the broad sweep of mountains towering above the desert floor. Everywhere I looked I could sense the immense majesty and splendor of this dynamically arranged landscape. You could envision momentarily the utter solidity of these fantastically colorful rocks, feeling the dizzying power of the heights soaring skyward far from the viewer's humble point of view. The lake itself seemed to sit nobly ensconced like an enchanted oasis neatly shelved between enduring monoliths. Here was this great body of water stretching outward for miles within an expansive desert kingdom. Such a compelling sight seemed perfect as subject matter for an acrylic painting.
"Arizona Skies and Landscapes" was painted in 1986 just at the peak of my pictorial interest in abstract atmospheres and the colorful impressions as seen through the eyes of an artist. I chose wood as a painting surface because I liked the solidity and feel of the material as opposed to canvas or paper. The blend of colors reminds me of the sometimes nebulous ranges of hues seen throughout the changing hours of the day, bright in the morning, intense in the afternoon, glowing toward evening. At times everything seems to coalesce like some grand architectural symphony, where shapes and spaces seem to collide and evolve from one set of dimensions to another. I started to paint a low-relief ground as a textured acrylic surface, but then became absorbed by the variations of color in the overall pattern taking shape. So it seems that the colors may be more significant than the implied shapes which dominate the background. There may be a few more abstract landscapes from the 1980's, but this painting is perhaps one of my favorites as it strikes a visual chord of fascination with the Arizona desert/ mountain environment.