The Four Season’s Summer Presto sound and feel is that of pounding rain during a raging summer storm. To capture some of the quickness, excitement, and the sharply cutting sounds of this music I am using the contrast of colors in light and dark shades. By using all of the different elements of this music, hopefully this twenty foot artwork will eventually take on the look of a big bad storm on canvas.
Because the color blue seems a natural for depicting bad weather I have a range of contrasting shades to represent the flow of the music. To introduce areas of brighter colors I have turned to other musical elements in the music such as the rests and the incidentals. These smaller pieces from this music are minor, but besides filling spaces, they add lots of points of interest.
In the image above, a number of the rests are painted in red and green. A rest pauses the music for an exact amount of time, based on its style Below, are two examples of rests, with the first pause being an 8th of one beat, followed by a 16th of a beat.
In this painting the red lines, of a rest, have a stopping effect, while the green for the circles are the complementary color of red, creating a back-en-forth effect. Besides the rests the other objects that add interest are the sharp, flat, or neutral, which in musical terms are all incidentals. The sharp raises the pitch of a note a-half step, a flat does the opposite, and the last image is of a neutral which is the natural sound of the music.
With the sharps. I first tried using a deep red for the legs, and a light magenta for the two arms. It looked awful. Those bright colors, in between the blues of the music, blocked the flow. I toned down the sharps by painting them a light blue, but then noticed that the size of the sharps where too large in comparison to the the music. Since I had already framed in all sixteen sharps, which took considerable time, I needed to find way to reduce their size without removing and redrawing them. My solution was to use darker shades of blue, to make one side of the sharp recede into the canvas. That help, but in a serendipity moment, I removed a piece of tape that I was using to edge a color, and under the tape was a small strip of the original light blue color. I knew then that by striping the sharps, and later the flats, would give them a unique look without conflicting with the flow of the music. For the red and green rests they all appear before the music, and not in the flow, so I left them alone.
When I first started to put together my plan for this final painting of the Vivaldi Four Seasons series, I went back and looked at the twelve other paintings and how each of them came up with their unique solutions. My first thoughts about this last painting, was to do a composition that uses many of these different ideas from the past Four Seasons artworks. I suppose, I thought it might be an easy way to start probably the most important artwork of the series. But that idea soon was forgotten. I found, like with so many starts in the past, I can borrow but not steal.
To explain, I have always looked at previous works to see what worked well with them, and what if anything that would help me with a step or two with new artwork. That actually does work, but only in minor ways, because certainly there are some common techniques that are shared between artworks, but because the subject, music, is so diverse I never end up following only one path on the way to complete a painting. With growing experience from producing these paintings I have learned that the best way to start a new artwork is to find the right amount of canvas for the music, pick a couple of colors that seem natural, play the music a lot, and then make that first move to put paint on the white canvas. That is when a new affair between the music, the artwork, and me, all begins.
After painting many paths I finally reach that next special moment when I am seeing the true personally of the artwork coming to the surface of the canvas. It is seeing that special something on that canvas, that convinces me that a new artwork can be cool. It is like that first touch in a new relationship, when you go from smiles to a kiss.
It has been a number of days since I started writing this blog entry. I have now made significant progress with Summer Presto, actually reaching the kissing stage. I am confident I am seeing this works own unique identity coming into view. It is a good feeling. A sense of finally understanding the direction this artwork wishes to go. And the relief of knowing “I am good to go,” and that soon there will begin, all over, the anticipation of what the next artwork will bring.
Scott Von Holzen