Dancing Flowers

posted in: Blog, Composition, Painting | 2

Looking back to Ming China (1368-1644) we find experiments in landscape and intimate garden painting. Formalized Chinese landscape painting had begun a thousand years earlier in the Han dynasty. By the Ming period artists explored more intimate points of view and new painting techniques as you see in this detail from a Ming period scroll (example 1).  The innovative spirit extended to compositions. This image of spontaneous, pendulous, hanging forms can be inverted to reveal a more standard landscape structure.

Example 1,  Hsu Wei, detail from a Ming period landscape scroll,

Using ideas culled from these ancient Chinese works contemporary artists explore intimate points of view, spontaneous expressive gestures, experimental paint applications, and compositional innovations.  In example 2 we see Christina Weaver’s subtle compositional innovations with the luminous distance favoring the left side of the picture plane and her imagery seems to extend well past the picture’s frame. We feel the flora pushed forward into an intimate experience with the viewer.  Some of these ideas can be traced back to Ming China.

Example 2. Christina Weaver’s beautiful July Hostas, 2021, 24×18” available @collinsgalleries.

I too have been intrigued by intimate points of view which bring the viewer into the foliage.  Arranging flora patterns allows the artist to create rhythmic continuities which both unite and enliven the painting’s sense of motion. Here is a step-by-step illustration of the process which begins with a simple and expressive abstract composition. This image uses successive layers to create complex contrapuntal rhythms.  Color contrast adds to the pushing and pulling of the space and location of imagery (examples 3 through 5).

Example 3. Exuberance (within a horizontal hourglass composition), 24×36, oil on enameled laminated aluminum,

Example 4. Exuberance, step two,

Example 5. Exuberance, step three, current state.

Placing the daylilies within a square can allow for another form of counterpoint. Fighting against the order of the external square I employ lyrical curves as base of the composition.  Next, a soft cascade of semi-opaque luminosity descends from the top as a way to unify the light of the painting (example 6).

Example 6, curvilinear rhythms, oil on enameled laminated aluminum, 24×24 inches.

Lastly, in example 7 is an image using a side-to-side roller coaster design or, also known as a cursive “W” composition which accommodates its horizontal frame. This image of wisteria in a misty veil of atmosphere uses the semi-opaque glazes to create an atmospheric quality of mystery and unity.

Example 7, Wisteria in a Soft Atmosphere, oil on enameled laminated aluminum. This image began as a zoom class demonstration, 12×18 inches.

I invite you to join me in my upcoming in-person workshops. The next is at the Artists Association of Nantucket in Nantucket, Massachusetts at the Visual Arts Center at 24 Amelia Drive .  Contact by telephone: 508 228 0772 or, Nantucketarts.org for my 3 day workshop in mid August (see this website for more information or contact the Artists Association of Nantucket directly).  Another in-person workshop is planned for the first three days in September at the Centerpiece Gallery in Raleigh, N.C. call 919 870 5342 or contact@thecenterpiece.com

For other upcoming workshops I invite you to visit the website at daviddunlop.com




2 Responses

  1. Gayle

    Just beautiful! You are so inspiring, a fabulous teacher and communicator. Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm and knowledge with us.

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