Marmalade Jar in Sunlight
“Marmalade Jar in Sunlight”
Oil on masonite, 10 x 4 Inches
I really enjoy working on paintings that have somewhat unusual dimensions, like this one. It somehow makes me feel refreshed and challenged. One of my least favorite dimensions is also one of the more common ones – 5 x 7 – I think there about a dozen empty panels of that size in my supply closet that have been sitting there for years. I’m not exactly sure what it is that bothers me, but it just feels wrong. 5 x 6 is more harmonious to my eye, and I use that dimension a lot.
So this is just one of those things I follow my gut on. There do seem to be a lot of artists who take proportions seriously and formally. Dennis Cheaney, who I studied with for a while, was a math major in college, so naturally took a scholarly approach to it. He sometimes talked about the Golden Mean, specifically as it applies to paintings. It also crops up in discussions about many other fields; for instance a composer I went to school with talked about its influence on his musical structures – both large scale and small. There is a book floating around here that goes into some depth about the ratio as it’s found in nature. I’d love to sit down and read it sometime, but haven’t gotten to it yet.
Meanwhile, I’ll keeping thinking about unusual painting formats. I wonder what 2×12 would look like…
I’ll take another opportunity to plug my new discussion blog: Watching Paint Dry, for a daily look inside my studio and posts about how my paintings are made. A couple more reminders on this blog and then I’ll be quiet about it!
Note: After I finished writing this post, I followed a few more links about the Golden Mean. Debussy’s La Mer is one of my very favorite orchestral pieces, and apparently it’s formal divisions correspond exactly to the ratio. It’s unknown if he intended this or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Either way, he was a genius.