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Thoughts & Notes

On the subjects I paint

A Pointillist 'Pop' of Color!

Thinking & Exploring Life Through the Making of Art

Journal Entry: Clone & Replicant, Joy Found in Color-Field Painting

Reading Time: 11 minutes

A Pointillist ‘Pop’ of Color!

Green Clone. Journal Entry: Clone & Replicant. Color Field painting with a pop art pointillist twist.

Clone, Replicant and Color Field is a joyful expression. I find this joy in painting. As a body of works, they are similar in nature and inherent with difference.

Clone: Green

Begin with Color …

A Move Towards Science

This Journal Entry: Clone & Replicant is where I begin with color. At least in a place other than on the painter’s palette. Because it resonates with us, color is a great place to start with any art project.

In theory and in practice, color is a place where I break the subjects I paint into constituents. There is an act of translation that begins in any artmaking process. In essence I recast, in a depiction, a subject onto a surface.

I do this recasting, with the use of paint or pigment. However, a realistic depiction is never really my goal. Rather, I seek a distillation of the subject I am focused on. An impression. As a general rule, my goal is to produce art composed as much by feeling and thought, as of any particular physical forms.

A close observation of lifeforms, art and thought fill my world with depth and meaning. I am on a voyage of discovery. Working in a pointillist technique has encouraged me to look at my art in fine detail. I want to understand the subjects I paint.

My desire to intimately understand the systems which bind my life within our ecosystem has grown along with my pointillist body of work. My interests, reading and research have shaped this path. They have also driven me to explore parallel avenues of creativity. The sum total of my body of work is an expression of these interests.

“Long before painting or dyeing, humans observed colors in nature. They first admired them, then distinguished them. Later, when they were still nomadic but had lived for some time in societies, they named, thought about, and classified them.”

Michel Pastoureau

Seeing in Color

We as Primates

Humans are optically primed, to recognize objects in full color and in, complete detail. However, we as a species, are not alone in this ability. It can be found in primates and monkeys as well.

In reality, the ability to recognize objects in color and detail is found in many species. Granted, not to the same degree as in humans, perhaps. Birds, for example, can see from five to seven colors. There are lifeforms that see only one or two colors. And there are those species capable of seeing in the ultraviolet range of light and color. Spiders and bees are examples.

Keeping this in mind, color and texture presented me with an ideal place to start developing the small works in this series, ‘Clone and Replicant’. The choice wasn’t difficult … I love color. Of every hue. And the fact is, I find when working with glazes, texture is a valuable asset in creating interesting effects. I love using it to my advantage on walls in decorative painting projects as well as in artworks.

Biosphere & Ecosphere

A Culture of Color Field

It is often assumed that acrylic pointillist work is my primary creative focus. I’ve made more than a few paintings using the technique. I find it fascinating how other artists have used it too. But, it is not my only path in creative expression, although I does seem to hold some power. Nor is representatonal work a singular focus.

There are subjects I find more satisfaction in working with, when I express them in some form of abstraction. It feels needed to me as an artist. As a result, viruses, mutations, clones and lifeforms too small to see, fill canvas and painting with explosive vibrancy. In these works, I am aiding the unaided eye. Theoretically placing a subject under a microscope, and then depicting it many times larger than its actual life-size.

Over time, my understanding of the complexity of the Biosphere and Ecosphere have deepened. And the methods in which I’ve chosen to explore the ecosystem has broadened.

Pointillism has remained, a pivot point on which all my other creative endeavors swing. Lifeforms, art and thought throw open the doors of perception. These doors lead in many directions. I appreciate this when I work in coldwax, oils and mixed media. I make fine art paintings and I make work considered more decorative. In every direction, regardless of the technique or media, color always plays a role.

“Nature’s ability to generate colors and color combinations you have never seen before is endless, and that is part of the thrill, part of the joy of the beauty of the earth.”

–  Michael J. McCarthy : The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy

Nature is Vivid

Color in Perception

The order of words in this series should probably be Color Field, Clone, Replicant. Particularly, if I consider how a color field is perceived by the brain. Conceptually, we all know what color is when we see it. I believe what is often overlooked, are color’s inherent properties.

Ordinarily, we don’t think about the true nature of color … how it happens.

Nor, are we necessarily taught to interpret our attractions or reactions to various colors. I think, human perception is one of the most fascinating things about the study of color. This Journal Entry: Clone & Replicant is playing with the concept of a clone and replicant, but within the spectrum of color field painting.

Say the word red. Instantly, a color comes to mind. But the exact color of red that comes to your mind is often quite different from mine. There are as many ways of perceiving the color red as there are individual sets of eyes. What we think of as true red, is highly subjective.

Red Clone. Journal Entry: Clone & Replicant. Color Field painting with a pop art pointillist twist.
Clone: Red

The way we perceive color is determined in part, by the rods and cones in our eyes. These basic biological structures differ between individuals. But, rods and cones are not the only factors at play. Cultural too, can play an important role. Culture, can condition us by repetitive experience, to think of red as having a particular quality.

Journal Entry: Clone & Replicant

Color in Culture

Most of us have our favorite color or colors. We can be incredibly tenacious in our choices. Especially, when it comes to the interiors of our homes, the color of the clothes we wear, even the cars we drive. Agreement doesn’t drive us and our color choices can be completely different than those of our partners.

You think ‘tomato’ red. I might think ‘fire engine‘ red. In your mind you might see a red I consider too deep for a true red. I may think a red somewhat purplish in nature as more a true example. Layer various cultural filters into the equation and added meaning is most likely given.

“We know that virtually all of human behavior is transmitted by culture. We also know that biology has an important effect on the origin of culture and its transmission. The question remaining is how biology and culture interact, and in particular how they interact across societies to create commonalities of human nature.”

E.O. Wilson
Purple Clone. Journal Entry: Clone & Replicant. Color Field painting with a pop art pointillist twist.

Cultural labels also help dictate the power of particular colors. Whether a color represents love, danger or both. Colors can, and often are, interpreted as being representative of nation, state and race.

Clone: Purple

The Wavelength

Color’s True Nature

When we look at color, what we actual see is an exceedingly small portion of the electromagnetic wavelength, spectrum. It is found somewhere in the neighborhood of 0.0007 millimeters in a condition where all the other wavelengths are then missing.

This Journal Entry: Clone & Replicant is not going to answer all the questions that may exist concerning this complex subject. It is only meant as a way for me to find context and place my works within a larger framework. It is a way for me to communicate some of my ideas, thoughts and feelings. Each essay in my journal is like looking at the color spectrum and seeing only a small portion of the whole.

“The universe is pulsating with an energy that we call electromagnetic waves. The frequency range of electromagnetic waves is huge – from radio waves which can sometimes have more than 10 kilometers between them to the tiny cosmic waves, which move in wavelengths of about a billionth of a millimeter – with x-rays and ultraviolet and infrared and TV and gamma rays in between. But the average human eye can detect only a very small portion of this vast range – only in fact, the portion of wavelengths between 0.00038 and 0.00075 millimeters. It seems a small differential, but these are magical numbers for our eyes and minds. We know this section as visible light, and we can distinguish about ten million variations within it. When our eyes see the whole range of visible light together, they read it as white when some of the wavelengths are missing, they see it as color.”

Victoria Finlay: Color: A Natural History of the Palette

Clone & Replicant

Putting it All Together

The basic construction of my colorfield paintings is simple. It leaves room for customization as the mood moves me. These paintings are basically layered colors with a textured surface I use to grab the glazes. An overlay field of unifying dots of pigment keeps them within a pointillist framework. Some of them remind me of animal skins.

I started with the basic six hues on the color wheel and used shades and tints of those colors along with a metallic paint to get my results.

Yellow Clone. Journal Entry: Clone & Replicant. Color Field painting with a pop art pointillist twist.
Clone: Yellow

These paintings are cultivated seeds in a creative conceptual process. This process hints at a larger vision. I use these in creating narrative installations. These small works serve as unifying elements and a visual glue. But, they maintain an aesthetic quality uniquely their own.

Perceived beauty is driven by our individual attraction to particular colors. It is formed by our direct experiences with a color or group of colors. As a body, these works can be organized in any number of ways in any number. It is possible to create large or small multi-canvas color field that can fit organically within any size, or type of space.

“The elements of art have long been held to be color, shape, texture and line. But an even more fundamental distinction is between color and luminance. Color, in addition to describing objects surface properties, can convey emotion and symbolism. But luminance, what you see in a B&W photo alone defines shape, texture and line.”

– Charles A. Riley II: Color Codes: Modern Theories of Color in Philosophy, Painting and Architecture, Literature, Music, and Psychology
Blue Clone. Color Field painting with a pop art pointillist twist.

I am fascinated by biology and the properties of DNA and cells as fundamental building blocks in life’s formation. I am interested in the global ecological systems that integrate all living beings, and their relationships.

Clone: Blue

Science & Art

Exploring The Ecosphere

Art is a passion. I also love Science Fiction and the infinite possibilities it presents. However, I am not by any means a scientist. But I do love the history of science and its many incredible discoveries.

I am intrigued by how all of this relates to my work as an artist. How my work fits within the framework of nature, perception and consciousness.

Each of these clones or replicants contain a tiny bit of all these passions. They contain, in their basic composition, fragments of designs I’ve used elsewhere. Each subsequent painting I make, is in some ways, a template in the making of the next. Clone and replicant in name, if not in complete truth.

“(John) Gurdon’s experiments (1960’s) incited the imagination of biologists – not least because it seemed like science fiction fantasy brought to life. In one experiment, he produced eighteen clones from the intestinal cells of a single frog. Placed in eighteen identical chambers, they were like eighteen doppelgängers, inhabiting eighteen parallel universes…. In time, variations on Gurdon’s method would lead, famously, to the cloning of Dolly, the sheep, the only higher organism reproduced without reproductions (the biologist John Maynard would later remark that the only other ‘observed case of a mammal reproduced without sex wasn’t entirely convincing.’ He was referring to Jesus Christ. Gurdon was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery of Nuclear Transfer.”

Siddhartha Mukherjee: The Gene: An Intimate History


The Art of Genetic Drift

My art is hand-made. This results in subtle differences emerging even in the face of homogeneity. No two are really identical. Doesn’t matter how many I make, at any one time. Admittedly, I don’t want them to be faithful reproductions of each other. This Journal Entry: Clone & Replicant, is a look at the concept of exact reproduction without offering you one.

Through mass production, communication and mobility, a vast catalogue of replicable images is now available to all of us. I often wonder if it is possible to stand out in the deluge.

But, mass production isn’t where I am going with these colorfield paintings. I do not know for sure, if they will remain constant over any long period of time without undergoing changes. I ally the process of making these ‘clones‘ in the same light as genetic drift. I may start at a particular place, but it is likely to move in one diection or another.

Oxford languages defines genetic drift as a variation in the relative frequency of different genotypes in a small population, owing to the chance disappearance of particular genes as individuals die or do not reproduce.

By applying this concept to my work, I then dictate that changes ensue as adaptations occur. These changes can happen in many different ways. It definitely manifests in my handling of materials. It does so through method and technique as well. And, it occurs as a result of mind states and surrounding environment.

A Dynamic Field …

Loaded With Inputs

We are bombarded and immersed in a dynamic cultural field. It is a field of limitless sensory inputs. I frequently experience an urgency to try, see, absorb and create everything. These works sit comfortably within and beyond these feelings.

Most of the time I feel like a sponge, but I can only absorb so much at any one time. Unlike a machine, I can only produce so much at a limited pace. Obviously, having a pattern of sorts, simplifies the process of making a lot of any one thing.

Orange Clone. Color Field painting with a pop art pointillist twist.

Through an ever-replicating number, the presence and effect of clone, replicant, and color field is amplified. The one becomes many. The many are multitude. And an entirely different organism begins to ascend.

Clone: Orange

Too often we are caught up in this swirling cultural vortex. We are intentionally enflamed by advertorial manipulation. We are psychologically conditioned to be on a constant search for the new. As a result, we are increasingly dissatisfied with what we have. This is a capitalist consumer society, taken to its logical conclusion.

Replicant …

Not Reproduction

The replicative quality of these works is the result of my desire to find a philosophical, artistic anchor. The replicant is a launching place in an ongoing exploration.

Within the parameters described, there is a dialogue being created surrounding consumer culture. It asks you to look at man versus machine-made artifacts. You might imagine, these clones being painted on a human assembly line. We all know sweatshops exist and corporations tip the playing field in their favor.

A frequency of error could even be programmed in using AI. Human mistakes allowed by design to occur. The fact they are not created that way is a conscious choice. They are not made that way because I do not want to be that far removed from the process.

I find painting to be a philosophical undertaking. Effort, philosophy and faith are woven throughout my journal and image galleries.

This essay is a tool for me to organize my world. Nothing here only represents truth or fiction. More, it does a little of both. I enjoy these color fields on their own. I think individual colors, like people, demands to be enjoyed. And, like people, in small or large groups, they are part of a larger society.

In Summary

The Bigger Picture

As stated, these clones serve me as a base. They function exactly like color. Using them as a base, I have developed individual abstract paintings that harmonize exceedingly well. By building on a replicant body, artwork congruity is a little easier. In this context, color and form find a natural harmony. This idea has continued to inspire me in new directions and with other materials. Here, I find nourishment for me soul.

As I’ve aged, life seems to have become much more complex. Its true for me in both living and painting. Growth is evident throughout my image galleries. As I build on all of this, as my years move swiftly by, I am leaving a breadcrumb trail.

This trail passes, along the way,Structures and Forms‘ and the Cells series. As these ideas have continue to evolve, my life has continued to change. My world includes ‘Butterflies and ‘Beetles,’ plants and fish. The seeds found here, are found sprouting throughout my work and thinking. Wavelengths and systems, art and thinking, living and breathing. In simply being who I am, I am finding my place here on this Earth.

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