Dissecting a Painting

Someone (wisely) said if you can explain a painting, then you should go into poetry and forget painting. Paintings are about color, light, and shadow. No deep message. Just visual stuff.

I didn’t set out to do an allegorical painting with The Trail . It was when i finished it that I was struck by the imagery. It’s the same sort of thing that allows us to see faces on Mars when the Orbiter simply took a photo of some odd rocks at low resolution. We bring our own stories to the visual world, both the natural and painted worlds.

Mind you, I don’t expect you to see the same things. I sort of hope you don’t. Makes things more interesting that way. My job deals with light, color, and shadow. It’s what I bring to the “art experience”. You bring whatever you have with you and we meet at the painting. What follows is what happened when I was my own audience.

The Trail Aspenglow 1.JPG

The main path is the focal point of the painting. It is broad and smooth, suggesting a lot of people have walked on it. Along the sides are rocks that might trip you up if you stray too far from the middle. There are rocks in the middle of the path where you’re standing but they are not barriers, just impediments slowing you down before you get to the middle smooth area of the path.


To the left is a barely discernible path winding behind and between the trees. It’s an alternative to the main path.

The main path is the orthodox road. The little path is the less used way. It’s not well defined, is full of hidden places to trip you up. From it you will be able to see the main path with your family, friends, your work… all your daily life… on the main path. For all the trouble it takes to walk the other path, all you’ll find there is yourself.

Parker wine walk

Last Friday, October 28, was the date of the last wine walk for the year. A wine walk is when people wander Parker’s Main Street, drinking a little wine at each participating merchant. Artists take that opportunity to show their stuff along the way. The walk lasts from 5:00 to 8:00. As you might guess, a lot of art that didn’t look so good at the start often undergoes a magical transformation after several sips of wine.

I took two paintings: a snow scene similar to the one on the home page here and a fall scene I had high hopes for. It’s on my business cards. We conducted an informal sidewalk poll.

The snow scene won by about 20 to 1. I stopped counting about 6:30. The fall scene rallied toward the end, having been helped by the wine and approaching darkness.  It was too little too late  and, anyway, I wasn’t counting anymore.

We asked for comments, too, which was instructive. The snow scene has broad fields of white, gray, and blue with a focal point of maybe 5 feet if that. The fall scene has loose brush strokes, several colors (it’s fall, right?), and has a focal point of 8 to 10 feet before things become completely coherent into a picture. Ten feet is a long way in most people’s houses. Pretty much clear across a room.

So, thanks, Parker. I’ll try to shorten the focal lengths. People notice the picture first. It’s only after that they consider the brush work, color choices and all that. It’s my job to make it easier to see the picture. The fall scene is still on my business cards, though. I like it.