How we look at the world has driven the range of responses to how we paint it. A hierarchical culture will generate art reflecting those values. Impressionists rebelled against the rigid formula of careful edge delineation of the style of the favored salon paintings of their period. Those favored works imitated the high uniform resolution of photography. Impressionists had new criteria. They wanted their paintings to reflect the way we saw the world in a glimpse, in a casual quick look. Focus would necessarily be loose and fractured which is more like the way we visually explore the world (example 1).
The impressionists still relied on older compositional forms as well as new ideas appropriated from Japanese woodblock prints. I too am more interested in how we see than how a photograph presents its deep focus imitation of the world. We don’t see but a tiny area of our field of vision in focus at a split second. The remainder of that visual field quickly degrades in acuity outside of the small center of our vision, our foveal area of focus.
The Impressionists did not invent the effect of blurred vision supporting a few areas with sharper focus. Example 2 by Govaert Flinck, a contemporary of Rembrandt’s in the 1600’s demonstrates how blurred areas within a standard serpentine design can offer a greater feeling of space, reality, and natural vision.
By offering melting or blended areas interrupted by sharp-edged bits we can generate an experience of vision that is more analogous to how we build the image of the world in our brains. By following step-by-step examples see how I tried to use this more biological process of seeing in my painting.
I have two examples. Both examples demonstrate a quality of visual blurring continuously interrupted by moments of specific clarity within a soupier matrix. The paintings provide an experience of how we focus or, how we find focused slivers within the blended visual field.
The next example, “Blended Vision over a Marsh” is not as developed in the process as the “Marsh and Sky Reflections”. I again offer you step-by-step examples.
Please join me In July (18th , 19th , and 20th ) when I will conduct a studio workshop on Nantucket with the Nantucket Arts Association. “Natural Elements” is a 3 day studio workshop. Call 508 228 9700.