Sheila Barnes and I exchange images of art every other month; the in-between months we are challenged to respond to the other’s work from the prior exchange.
So this was a month Sheila sent me one of her elegant abstractions, and I sent her one of my plein air landscape. (At least it wasn’t a yellow truck, which I think she was secretly hankering for.)
Among the many advantages of this exchange (friendship is the foremost advantage) is that it makes me think about what I’m doing and why. Here are the two pieces:
Sheila remarked that my palette in this piece was,unusual for us, and without consultation, much like hers. Generally speaking, this isn’t the case. Which made me wonder what is “my” palette and why was this particular one is so similar to Sheila’s.
I realized, almost instantly, that I don’t have “a palette” of colors that I normally use. I have a preference for transparent paints, and for layers, but the hues I choose range greatly and can be pure and saturated or muted and earthy. The reason, I suspect, is that unlike the way I do (or did) textile art is that I almost always paint in the moment, and even if I’m not in front of a scene, I’m painting from a vivid memory or vividly imagined space. The space dictates the palette.
Many artists define themselves by the colors or at least the saturation or earthiness of the colors they choose. My sense of place, my being pulled out of myself into an external space, is always the defining factor. If I’m painting a bar in SE Portland, chances are the colors will be vivid, even garish. When I paint in eastern Oregon, the brilliance of the sun fades the colors (except in some place like the Painted Hills, where nothing can fade the soils brilliance). And this painting, from the upper Rogue River Gorge, set in mid-spring along an icy 40 degree stream being fed by snow melt, required muted greens and blues and grays — and of course the white of the rushing water.
So Sheila’s chance remark, along with her carefully crafted art, provided me with an insight about my own work that I hadn’t had before. It’s definitely a reason to keep on with this challenge, even when I despair. How can I send her a bright yellow truck painting in response to the abstract geometries she has given me to work with this month? — June