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Painting: extreme close-up of an elf peering out at us from a strange teardrop-shaped picture-space. Click to enlarge. ELF EYE

acrylic on wood, around 4x12", 2002/5/20, by Chris Wayan

Whenever I want to do a round or oval painting (and I often do, now, in my little war against the squares of this world) I cut it out of doorskin, and curvy triangles are left over in the corners. I've gotten into the habit of shaping these scraps into little freeform paintings like this.

The textures were done with a kitchen sponge, mostly, not a brush. I like sponges, probably because I used to be one--taking everything in, sitting around doing nothing.

On the other hand now I sit around doing things like this.

It isn't even patriotic.

What is it? A window. I like the idea modern art rejected, that a painting's a window into another world. I like the idea that strange beings may be watching us from paintings. A window opens both ways.

Seeing the panel as a window changes how I compose. If I insist on seeing it as a plane, as a surface that'll hang on a wall, I try to balance the shapes within its edges. But if it's a window opening onto a larger space, then I find myself painting things too big to fit in the picture-plane, things you see only part of. Because it's a whole world in there, and my mind is happy inferring the hidden bits--they seem to form part of the composition too. Yep, invisible elements! I find it's not just me--the viewers' brains peer past the edges, inferring (for example) complete faces from glimpses.

So why not get more out of your limited space than the modernists think is possible? They only have two dimensions to fit everything in. You have more... just by being retro!

For me, this archaic compositional theory--the window into a world--works better than the picture-plane idea. Try it and see.

Of course this has nothing to do with my conception of dreams as a vast multidimensional realm, far bigger than that squinky little window of consciousness we view them through. Just as modernism's squareness and postmodernism's flatness has nothing to do with their denial of other worlds ... nothing nothing nothing. Go drink some coffee and get back to your job.



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