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The Black and White Path

Let The Days Go By


Framed mixed media board


The "Black and White" path is a series that I started thinking about over a year ago. I was doing value studies in a workshop I was taking. Value is arguably the most important part of the design, and without value being correct, everything else is irrelevant. I am often complimented on my use of color, and while it is evident that I do love color, it is only effective with value... muting it with black and white to make the relevance and saturation matter. Black and white are like the yin and yang in balance. While in this 12-week intensive workshop called “Art 2 Life”, I started noticing the black and white tiles all around me; on the street, in outdoor awnings, in fashion magazines, and in-home decor.

Where did the black and white tiles originate from? Archeologists have discovered black and white tile flooring in the ruins of a 2000-year-old villa outside of Rome. Checkerboard floors started appearing in Renaissance paintings. Louis XIV's architect used the classic pattern in the Queen's Staircase at Versailles. Black and white floor tiles for the bathroom were popular during Victorian times and during the Arts and Crafts period. I went into the city one day and thought how cool it would be to incorporate the use of the black and white tile, into an urban scene. And Voila! The black and white path was conceived. Once an idea occupies my mind, I have a heightened awareness of its prevalence in everyday life. I took notice of little squares embedded on the pavement and in the lobbies of fancy hotels. Piano keyboards stared at me as I walked by music shops. While I could have made a painting of pure black and white squares, I wanted more of the fragmented feeling I get as I walk through a city street. My mind is scattered, all over the place, looking at the water tower cone shapes in the sky and the eclectic sounds and shapes forming the urban landscape.

I would call these "black and white" works of art a collage as it was a collection of brush strokes and my own thoughts layered on top of each other. From the French meaning "to glue," collage describes the technique of composing an artwork by gluing a wide range of materials - including pieces of paper, fabric, newspaper clippings, and sometimes readymade objects - to a surface. Collage seemed to suit this feeling better than straight-up painting because what is a city after all other than layers of ideas on top of each other. It is not one picture - but a collection of symbols and shapes and values.

I produced laser copies of photographs I took around the city of black and white tiles and incorporated them into the artboard using a gloss medium for an image transfer. I then painted over these images so that in some cases only little tiny fragments of the photo can be seen. A cross-culture of ideas and representation. I love the city, but the straight 2-point architectural rendering was losing the idea of layers for me. A painting at its core must be about a feeling and a subject section. The feeling I wanted was fragmented. Depth, complexity, and richness are all organized in a tiny space. Yes, the city is large, but it is also very small. People live in cramped spaces and compete for quiet spaces to think. Old ideas and structures are ripped down, only to be reinvented and rebuilt again. It is chaos and white space. It is the cultures of transplanted people adding histories and traditions to form a living entity called a city. It is a juxtaposition of things: motion and organization; reduction and inclusion; complicated and simple. A painting should always be about one thing, and for me, that one thing is fragmented to make a whole. The darkest dark next to the lightest lights and all the middle hues in the middle that surprise and inspire us.

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