Saturday, October 06, 2012

On the Couch with Composition

How do I love thee...  let me analyze.  I'm taking a composition class at NYAA and that is the requirement, finding our true love painting and understanding it's compositional elements thoroughly, or as I like to call it, "tearing it from limb to limb".  While this sounds like a painful process, it is actually one of the most enriching exercises I've done in a long time.  Wade Schuman offers such a wealth of insightful information as to set ones neurons on fire.  I can honestly say I think he has directly influenced the way I look at paintings today.

Here is what I'm realizing, love can be superficial, love is fickle, love is a many splendored thing...  I first chose Waterhouse's "Lady of Shallot".  This is the painting where she looks pained as she sets off to her death after having had a glance of her true love.  Wait...  should I be worried?  In truth, I picked it because I once loved it.  I saw it in an exhibit of J.W.'s work and though I still liked elements of it, the magic somehow left it in confrontation.  So it was kind of like bringing up an old boyfriend and saying you still had feeling for him even though they are a shadow of what they once were.  After going through a brief analysis in class, this became painfully obvious to me and I thought, do I really want to spend a whole semester with this boyfriend, oops sorry, painting?

My second and actually first choice was Caillebotte's "The Scrapers".  Ok, valid choice.  I spent some time returning to and staring at this painting in the Musee D'Orsay, though admittedly in a frenzy of passion because I was surrounded by so many inspiring works.  Kind of like being surrounded by all the attractive people I've ever met, or not, no not that superficial...  ok, more like the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (although I think I did a better job of concealing it).  I really did love it, for it's feeling of space, it's inner illumination, it's muscular men (not really, just checking to see if you're paying attention), it's feeling of movement and rhythm, and it's wonderful mnemonic of Parisian life.  Really, it's true, believe me.  Then I started analyzing it...  Yes, you guessed it, the love began to wane.  It faded from a fresh flower to an artificial bouquet.  Lots of elements that I love, but somehow they seemed less real, less vibrant.  (Cue to "How Deep is your love...")  Apparently not so deep.

This was worrying.  Am I really so shallow?  Does true love exist and stand the test of deep analysis?  Am I like a bee flitting from flower to flower?  Well, no probably not, but love is scary.  Looking deeply into what you love can be revealing and maybe, just maybe I didn't want to go there, into the cave.  (An analogy I know a lot about now that my studio is in the cave of the school, better known as the "Garden Level". ) So where does that leave me, am I a lost soul, destined to sit in my parlour with an old wedding cake?  No, I think not.  These revelations are driving me to think deeper about what I love, without shame, remorse, or fear of estrangement.  To that end, I hereby reveal my true love, or at least one of them...  Hammershoi's "Interior with Young Woman from Behind".  Have a gander (possible analysis to come, give or take a few hours of sleep):

So there you have it, true love.
(Perhaps I'm not so shallow after all.)