Last month in New work and a bonfire pop-up I wrote about how certain color combinations I’ve been working with are reminding me of alien laced evenings. Even though the literal subject matter of these recent paintings is not aliens (yet) I’m trying hard to put a mysterious slant on the human forms I use. Keeping people outside under a velvety starry sky is a start.
More than being alien, the look has the otherworldly feeling of being outside before a lightning storm. Or how eerie a sunset feels through smoky air. Something is a little off. Something is going to happen, or maybe it just happened. Between the colors and the position of the subjects things are peculiarly interesting.
Something I haven’t tried to depict too much in the past is the time of day. Middle-of-the-night colors naturally bring a sense of mystery to a painting. Developing rich dark color formulas is really just looking for good mud colors. It’s practice to know which clashing colors will actually make a very nice dark with lots of depth.
The pale colors I choose bring out the dark. I think the key is to use the whites that aren’t white. Pastel shades can look very different depending on the other colors surrounding them. It’s fun to play with the side-by-sides. Instead of feeling weak like pastels can sometimes do, these off colors create a seeming reflection of strange light.
I like to paint scenes from my life. So for now I’m not painting aliens since I haven’t run into any. But I do sometimes want to bring an unearthly feeling to the colors I choose for a painting.
Writing about my painting practice here is really helping me nail down my thoughts. Even though it’s a little nerve wracking to put these ideas out into the world I think it’s helping me, and hopefully others, to understand my artwork in a new way.