Color is a painting's initial engagement with the viewer. At closer inspection, questions may form in the viewer's mind. For example, what is being conveyed by the painting? Has a conversation been established between the painter and the viewer? The painting's title may unlock understanding, perhaps an "aha".
My paintings are structured abstraction of a place, an event, a process or acknowedgement of an activity. Each of these is expressed abstractly through form with little or no attempt at pictorial representation. The structure of the painting consists of the interdependent parts in a definite pattern of organization. I employ only straight lines and simple blocks of color. Often, the color is graded from bright to dark to suggest shadow and three dimensionality.
Colors, straight edges, and shadows are combined to illustrate the motif of the painting, or the back story. With the Class One Railroad Series, I wanted to honor the nation's freight railroads with a proposed monument for a Mid-Western city park. The seven Class Ones are displayed with their merger/acquisition partners. There are thirty five railroads depicted on the pedestal shown in the model's seven photographs. The initial abstraction was to depict the railroads as pylon and to rank them by relative size and order of acquirement. Three large paintings were made of the model by viewing it with bright light from the left.
The large paintings are not pure abstraction as they do include steps, sky with clouds and scale human figures. Harvested from these large paintings are much purer abstract paintings. They are in the form of enlarged details which become the merger/acquisition paintings. These paintings have more pronounced facetting, more intense coloration, and a stronger three dimensionality. The 'real' elements vanish and the pure color is the attractive force.
The responsibility of the artist as a creator, is to determine the composition in all its aspects. I am creating form with the model. The subsequent paintings are depictions of sides of the model with shadows and in color. The culling of portions of the large paintings as enlargements, requires judgement of proportion and balance. The merger/acquisition compositions are a 'gift' from the long work which preceded. These paintings suggest the denser railroad community of the past. Locomotives' colorful liveries and bold heralds are now lost in history.
Malcolm Montague Davis