» » » Counterpoint around a primary color

Counterpoint around a primary color

Three new paintings in acrylic using circles as a geometric motif.  One is centered on yellow, another on red another on blue.  These are 24×24 inches on canvas with 0.75 inch stretchers and are each $450.00 through June 7 (a special for the Beacon Hill Art Walk).

Each primary color counterpoint presents a unique challenge.

Yellow Counterpoint acrylic on canvas
“Yellow Counterpoint” acrylic on canvas with raised features extruded through a pastry bag. 24 x 24 inches.
red counterpoint, acrylic on canvas
“Red Counterpoint” acrylic on canvas with raised features extruded through a pastry bag. 24 x 24 inches.
blue counterpoint, acrylic on canvas
“BlueCounterpoint” acrylic on canvas with raised features extruded through a pastry bag. 24 x 24 inches.

Each color loses its psychological identity in different contexts.  A light red is an orange or pink, dark yellows quickly shade to brown and gold, while very light and dark blues can read as neutral black and white.

One challenge in each of these counterpoints was creating an interesting dynamic of color saturation and intensity while maintaining the identity and character of each primary color.  Bringing in bits of secondary color help to emphasize the blueness of the blues, the redness of the reds and the yellow nature of the Yellow Counterpoint.

Another challenge was creating visual interest, rhythm, and yes – contrapuntal motion – with a simple geometric and color motif in each work.  The simplified geometry of only circles helps create the rhythm and the idea of contrapuntal motion.  The rhythm of the shapes and their pattern dominates.  Adding other shapes, for example squares, would create a distracting ambiguity that (I believe) would detract from the counterpoint.

Metallic color, transparent and translucent forms and layers, and the use of extruded gel shapes on the canvas all help to create visual interest.  They define the span of the individual circular elements, ground the rhythmic and contrapuntal ideas, and keep the pieces active and focused.

I was a double major at MIT, complete with two these.  One major was Materials Science (Thesis on diacetylene/polyurethane cross polymers).  The other was Humanities, specifically music theory and composition.  After spending those years learning contrapuntal harmony and composition, these works seemed …necessary.  I learned about Bessel Functions as an Undergraduate – as part of my music degree.  Kettle drums have a resonance that provides a very good example of a type of Bessel function (put something granular on the drum head before you whack it and you’ll see the pattern).  They came up years later as part of some advanced graduate level coursework in crystallography and scattering.  The professor was a bit surprised, but of course I knew about all sorts of Bessel Functions – I was a music major.

No Bessel functions here, but the rings do make me think of intersecting wavefronts, like ripples on a pond.  If only phase information wasn’t lost in acrylic painting …