Friday, December 27, 2019

Normal Is Boring

There was a brief discussion yesterday about this paining by John F. Carlson (1874-1945) that pbird posted with the comment “not great, but nice” adding that “oddly, it feels a little off kilter to me.”

ThumbnailForest Silence

Although I quite like it, it does seem “a bit off kilter.” There is something not quite right and as I am a sometime painter, and ostensibly a left-brained one at that, my brain immediately wants to solve the “problem.” For me painting requires skill, inspiration, intuition and…yes, problem solving. While some true artists can do the latter exclusively with intuition those of us who aren’t that gifted need to do so analytically. 

It would help to see the original painting properly hung on a large, otherwise empty wall. I think it would immediately reveal the source of the problem which is with the sky, specifically the sky at the middle of the composition. Interestingly the problem is likewise more obvious in a much smaller format presentation:

With proper perspective you see that the tree branches at the center of the canvas are too dense, obliterating too much of the sky. 

All tree limb, no sky

Not saying that’s not what it looked like to the naked impressionistic eye but as all artists know, reality sometimes needs a little boost. The eye would land comfortably if the space were either completely obscured, as in Ocean’s Bridge…

Image result for john f. carlson paintings

or Winter In The Forest.

Image result for john f. carlson paintings

Or more completely open, as in Forest Quiet

Image result for john f. carlson paintings

Charles Weed solves a similar problem with dots of light breaking through the dense bramble in Beaches – Winter:

Can you tell what my New Year’s resolution is? It’s to get back into the studio in case that isn’t obvious either.

Anyway somebody commented yesterday that Winter Silence looked like a paint by number, which reminded me of one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes panels:

And as we all know, normal is boring.

Normal is Boring.