The Artwork of Michael Divine




Divinely (un)Intentional

June 13th, 2008

I have been away from the canvas for more than a few days and longer than I like to be, spending my time instead catching up on work that I’ve put off, planning our wedding, and, in general, trying to squeeze a lot of production into a very small space of time. However, with some projects coming to a sense of completion so that next week can be devoted to our wedding.

I spent the evening cleaning the studio and then set the canvas, a 24″ square, on it’s corner on the easel fitting it snugly and securely. I hoped something would arise out of me and onto it, knowing that, inside of me, the passion is always there, the energy always available. All it ever needs is a productive outlet.

The canvas has been floating around the studio for a while- always getting several dozen brushstrokes of gesso every time I gessoed a canvas. I hate to wash the extra gesso trapped in the brush down the sink. It feels wasteful and rather un-eco-PC. So instead I scrub it out on this rather rough canvas and then the canvas gets put aside. It seems it’s been sitting around absorbing a lot of energy – a bit of every painting for the past 6 or 7 months at least.

Now it sat on the easel, a blank white space in the room.

As usual, with a fresh canvas and a set intention, when the hour draws nearer to actually laying that first brushstroke upon it, without any clear idea as to what it might manifest, I begin to dawdle. I check this or that on-line. I do a bit of cleaning.

Violet walked in from the paper she is writing (I say “is” because she is, at this moment, 3:34 am, still writing it), a final paper for a graduate seminar on something that if i try to repeat it i’ll get it wrong – Reichenbach’s argument about something or other.

“Are you going to paint a picture for our wedding?” she asked in her most unobtrusive and innocent voice. The kind of voice that you can’t, in any way, feel defensive about or put off by.

I’d been considering it, I told her but didn’t have a clear idea as to what it would be yet. She left it at that and, at some point, went back to her paper, all twelve pages of which are due by five o clock tomorrow. We’ve both been in completion mode.

And then the clock struck whatever. I had an idea. My hand picked up the brush and dabbed in the white at the top corner that blended in thick brushstrokes to a yellow-orange azo mixed with cadmium yellow into dioxazine purple. It is a gorgeous combination of colors and, I have found, one of my favorites. Incredibly versatile, it offers warmth, coolness, soft shadow and crisp edges. In this case, my brush, long with some retarder gel and water, flowed in soft undulating spirals that drew the color from white to gold to purple and, on top of that, I layered two silhouettes in stark crisp white that blended back into the golden purples.

The silhouettes formed a loose and not quite symmetrical version of the old op-art picture of the vase/face thing where the negative space and positive space seem interchangable. We’ve all see the picture (known as Rubin’s Vase)and it is a concept I had considered at first when we were designing our wedding invites but I ultimately bailed on it because it just didn’t seem to be fluid enough for the block printing we were doing. For the painting, however, the background (where the vase would be) supported a wonderful white/gold heavenly sort of space with these two faces gazing into each others eyes in front with three thinly outlined circles circumscribed over the faces and a star in the middle of their gaze, between their eyes.

It is amazing how quickly a thing like this can happen sometimes. In a few brushstrokes, a thousand spirals, a few hours, an image that approximates the silhouette of a couple in love, gazing intently into each others eyes, in yellow, white and purple with subtle lines and accommodations to suggest something greater.

It is true that I could have measured them more, made exact reflections or whatever, but then they wouldn’t have had any character. This way, they seem distinct and you can, I think, tell which would be the male and which the female.

I painted a few rays of light coming down from above. Went over the white lines a bit more, added some subtle spirals around the edges and, now, call it more-or-less complete.¬¬ It is beautiful.

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