Saturday, February 24, 2007


Here is an earlier painting in the Forest Series, "Kurosawa's Forest (16" x 28") and a second one called "Monsoon" (about 28' x 36" I think). These paintings were done in transparent acrylic glazes worked in many layers, with some incising into acrylic medium which makes the surface shimmer and catch the light different from different angles.

The next two images are of a new painting
still in progress (the second image is a detail) that I am working on. This one is much larger, about 30" high by 60" wide. I am working in acrylic on unstretched linen, and I am not glazing, but instead I am scumbling so that I can build layers of opaque color. I am uncertain yet of how I will finish this painting -- struggling with how much detail to add. I want it to suggest rythmnic patterns of the tree trunks but I do not want it to be to realistic . . . I think.


Fujiko Isomura said...

Hi, Katherine.

"Kurosawa's Forest" is one of my favorite paintings of yours!! I remember vividly when I first saw it in person which was back in Japan when you had a two person show with Kohji.

The new painting seems huge. The texture and the tone of the painting remind me of Japanese stlye painting. I think the way you are creating the surface must give the texture look that I am familiar with as the Japanese style painting.

I like the color very much. It does have a rythm but also very calm and peacful, too. I know what you mean by trying make it not realistic. Good luck!!

Katherine said...

I'm glad you like Kurosawa's Forest. It has been one of my favorites also for a long time. I am curious about the Japanese style painting you are referring to, can you point me to any examples on the web? After years of glazing, I am reinventing my surfaces and need to work out the look of the surface so I understand better how I want to finish this.

I have been thinking about getting more realistic with the bark pattern of the trees, keeping the composition abstracted, but I haven't decided yet. That could interfere with the way the color works if I am not careful -- could be distracting, OR it could add a lot more interest and the feeling of being in the forest.

Yesterday when we were skiing, I watching the patterns of tree trunks against the snow, wishing I had a camera with me.

Fujiko Isomura said...

I have googled for the Japanese style painting but I did not find any images representing my point of view very well. When you see the certain Japanese style painting up close, you will see the surface texture which is unique to its technique like tempera.

Still, here are two pages which sort of show what I mean...
Takashi Harada
Hiroki Murata
The matte finished surface look does remind me of the Japanese style painting though...

Introducing the realism into the abstract is not easy. So if it succeeded it would be an interesting image then.

I often talk to myself, "OH! This is great!! I should take a picture! Where is my camera!?" When I need a camera, I usually left it at home...

Katherine said...

Thanks for posting the links. I like both artists work and I can see what you mean. Takashi Harada's work seems especially relevant to what I am doing, but both artists surfaces (and images) are of interest. Kohji and I talked about the Japanese concept of "Ma" in art, that is very important in his work. My understanding in western art terms, is that this is the relationship of the negative space to the positive forms, but with more emphasis on the negative areas. Do I understand this correctly? This is in part what I am trying to do with the forest patterns -- I am working on the rythmns of the light and dark vertical spaces, also trying to develop some depth, by varying the width of the tree trunks.

I also really like the matte, layered color surface I am developing--kind of crusty, like bark. But, is this enough for the viewer, will it have enough information to keep it interesting, or do I need to add more detail?

I think of introducing the realism of the textured bark (if I were to do this . . .) as similar to a photograph which is abstract because of the close cropping which denies easy recognition of the whole subject because it focuses on the detail and pattern of a small part.

Fujiko Isomura said...

By the way, I know Takashi personally but I do not know Mr. Murata. I wish if there were close up photos of the surface of Japanese style paintings.

"Ma" is a space. And yes your understanding of it is quite wonderful. One of the obious art samples of "Ma" is...OH! I have just found a cool site!! It is Tokyo National Museum site and boy you can see some famous paintings in details!
Wind God and Thunder God
You can click the image and then see more details! Fantastic!!

I also think that a notion of "Ma" is sort of related to Zen. It of course does not have to be loud like "Wind God and Thunder God". But these paintings are very good example of the use of "Ma". I can imagine that Kohji thinks about it on his art, too.

I think it is very interesting that you are now developing a matte surface vs. a grazed shiny surface. All the colors, shapes, composition and texture could create enough interest so you do not have to be obsessed by the idea of how much you need to work on the details. But, it is easy for me to say!

I was thinking about the photograh that focusing on one point and the rest would become blar. That would be an interesting idea to work with, too!

Katherine said...

Oh, so many good ideas to respond to. I will skip ahead and say that the idea of a center focal point and all else a blur is a great idea--it would allow me to give a hint of my source and sustain the abstraction! I really like that a lot. I'll write more soon, I had forgotten to check back for a few days. I haven't looked at the website yet, but I am eager to see it.