I saw one scarlet leaf floating down the creek by my studio and I realized with a bang that the season of red is upon us. With that in mind, I went back to the studio and started a new painting based on that leaf and photos I took last fall at the pond.
I also decided to do an experiment. Most of my paintings lately have been painted while listening to two cd’s. The first is composer Morton Feldman’s wonderful suite of songs entitled Rothko’s Chapel. The other cd is devoted to Brian Eno’s experiments for three pianos entitled Ambient Sound 2, which particularly affected the mood in Pond Poem.
But fall and the color red both required something different, so I turned to Thelonious Monk, the great jazz composer and musician. The new painting, Scarlet’s Cousins, is the result of crossing one red leaf with Thelonious, and letting it all just happen. Same pond, different mood. The title, Scarlet’s Cousins, is based on the color decisions I made while working on the painting. In painting, every brushstroke of color effects and alters our perception of nearby strokes. No color occurs in isolation. Every stroke sets up a relationship with colors occurring throughout the painting. The golden yellow and orange scarlet passages in the painting couldn’t achieve balance without some reference to the cooler side of the color wheel. I usually use variations on blue, but that color was too bold and would have brought too much attention to itself, so I used cool pinks and violet glazes instead. Additionally, violet-glazed greens and blue-gray glazes gave hints of coolness to this primarily warm, sunny autumn view.
So why Scarlet’s Cousin’s? Because every color is part of a family of colors, and this painting is all about the colors that support scarlet.