In the middle of things

 
from a collection of rhetorical terms study cards

from a collection of rhetorical terms study cards

Where should I put things? A good question for the focus of a painting, where to keep your keys, or even how to file ideas in your mind.  We will always feel the need to answer this question because nothing is ever in a permanent place.  

Once we decide where things go, they are in their place...

for now. 

I just moved from an apartment to a house and every moment I have felt the need to put things in their place.  There are the boxes, the furniture, the things that go in drawers and the things that go on walls.  

The pictures above are of a card from a set of rhetorical terms study cards.  I've since lost or misplaced the entire set, but this one survived.  It appeared during the unpacking and placing of books, first on the floor, then on shelves.  It appeared seemingly out of nowhere.  It appeared in the middle of things.  

Whether it's coincidental or not, no term has more meaning to me now than in medias res.  

I keep this card on my desk, which is also in the workspace where I paint.  Sometimes I misplace it or it falls to the floor and goes missing for a few days.  

It's difficult, but I want to keep reminding myself that life, the whole grand narrative of it, is always in medias res, always in the middle of things.  

This is why I've chosen to pursue the concept in art.  

I've so far primarily focused on the movement of the human form.  I've taken to sketching and painting runway models as they are in the middle of their walk down the runway.  

runwaysketch

You see where they are.  You don't know where they've been or where they're going but you have a sense for it.  You can tell which foot is forward, which hand will swing backward.  You feel the rhythm and the movement.  We can perceive something in the middle of things but we can't perceive everything.  

"Runway 1" [12" x 20"] the first painting exploring in medias res of runway models during their walk.  I'm fascinated by the hand gesture, the movement of the arm, the angle of the step.  

"Runway 1" [12" x 20"] the first painting exploring in medias res of runway models during their walk.  I'm fascinated by the hand gesture, the movement of the arm, the angle of the step.  

In the above painting, titled "Runway 1," I'm exploring how the colors form highlights and shadows work with the movement of the human form.  In this piece the background is de-contextual, with some sense of light and shadow.  This compositional scheme involves the unstable blue background.  This particular blue paint changes its appearance depending on the light, time of day and the position of the painting in the room.  I learned this about this particular blue as I was working on "Connected" earlier this summer.

commissioned work - 48" high by 60" wide each

commissioned work - 48" high by 60" wide each

This piece is two paintings of lyrical abstract shapes and colors representing the highlights of the physical gestures of a male and female modern dancer

This piece is two paintings of lyrical abstract shapes and colors representing the highlights of the physical gestures of a male and female modern dancer

"Connected" merges techniques from two previous works. 

"Miles Davis" (30" x 40") used a blue background with yellow, white and orange to highlight the contours

"Miles Davis" (30" x 40") used a blue background with yellow, white and orange to highlight the contours


I drew from the shapes and colors in "Calypso" (20"x30") to create the abstract representations in "Connected"

I drew from the shapes and colors in "Calypso" (20"x30") to create the abstract representations in "Connected"

The resulting approach is a composition with abstract shapes and shades capturing the gesture of human movement.  

I'm trying to convey beyond what is seen.  I want you to sense more than one still-frame image when you look at the in medias res works.  I want where the figure is going and where the figure has been to resonate in your imagination.  If you do get this resonance, then to some extent, the representation of the physical renders an experience beyond what the painting is showing.  I want to play on the idea in art that the eye, especially the eye of the viewer, will put things together and make things happen.  The physical representations in the in medias res works aim to capture how the past and the future are inclinations that resonate in our minds.  We bring who we are, what we feel and what we think to the act of looking at art.  In medias res: in the middle of things.  What things are we in the middle of?  We bring them to our perception of a work of art.  They influence how we define our terms.