As I continued to work on what has become one of my “classical” design approaches in the painting I introduced last week, the painting progressed cohesively.  It built up organically through the use of color and form.  I listened closely to the rhythm and pattern sensations that each shape introduced, through its connection to each other, and the heightening of its unique quality while introducing chromatic variations.


I did have a moment when I saw the overall image of what I was creating resolve itself fully in my mind’s eye.  This was unexpected but I had a clear sense of the painting’s completed evolution’s effect. I saw a quick visual reference point where color areas would realize an overall effect creating the dynamic fullness of the artwork.

Now, as I work to recreate the elements that I saw from this inner image, that process will yield its own dynamism and unexpected outcomes.  As I re-create what I saw in my mind’s eye, the artwork will most likely transform itself once again.

I’ve begun to craft this overall design and “oversee” its evolution.  How would I do this?  Experience, I know that the organic effort itself will achieve, via a very fluid step by step process, a completion through that intangible living creative space.

I will need to work on how to describe this experience as I work with this more.  Most of the time, I do not have a complete sense of the design’s experience resolve itself fully in my mind’s eye.  Sometimes, when I want to test out composition concepts,  I experiment (see image on left below) and try to figure out various possible outcomes.  I did this with my prior painting using Photoshop (see completed artwork image on the right below.) The two artworks are an interesting reflection of each other.

I’ll look to other creatives, as these present themselves also, to see how they’ve addressed this visual intuitive experience of visualizing an overall design in relation to the eventual completed work itself.  Many of you, likely have ready references in mind.

Here is the chronicle of the organic development prior to  the mental completed image:

This is the painting now, just following the introduction of the experience of seeing the full composition.

In the “mind’s eye image,” I noticed immediately that black alongside grey and mixtures of black with blue, green, red, brown and violet were pivotal.  With these dark tones, the whites were powerfully as well and these were present as light creams and blends of white with a number of colors.    But, the most striking was the intensity of the black and white itself.  The intense connection of these new black/white tensions within the geometric pattern itself, signaled the “new” dimension to address for this particular work.   I will include more updates in the upcoming blogs.

Following this week’s work, I decided to delve into my reading of Namgyal Rinpoche today.  He addresses the possible connotations associated with colors and how these can be understood within creative-cultural traditions.  Namgyal sees color in terms of a correlation of the “inner” with the “outer” self and world.

“When you paint with blue you are invoking blue within yourself.  Even thinking blue will lower the metabolic rate.  In fact you are always painting yourself. “  (Unfolding through Art, p.28)

He introduces a detailed set of observations on the nature of color.

“Look and see what colors you use, which ones you don’t.  Why do you avoid certain ones?  How do you handle black, red, yellow and other colours?   Black represents empirical will.  Can you work with empirical will?  Can you handle fragmentation – yellow and orange?  Which colors raise the metabolism?  Which lower it?  An exaggerated use of yellow is bound to over-fragment.  It’s interesting that many artists have a blue period, the colour of tranquility.  Some have several periods in which one particular colour is used predominantly.  This is an attempt to balance their being even if they are not consciously aware of it.”

He introduces a set of distinctions amongst color groups and their psychological qualities that I found fascinating and I’ll share here.

“You could work with green first, then blue; these are the colors of introversion. After exploring blue and green, to work with the next colors in the sequence: red and yellow, and these too can be reversed in order; they are the colors of extroversion.  Following that, work with mauve (you may call it purple or violet) and brown, or brown first, then violet.  Brown represents the earth, the body, and violet represents the ideal.  Finally, in this series, work with black and grey.  Grey represents defense, a walling-off.  Most people choose grey before black because there is a desire to wall themselves off from passion, from empirical will.”

Clearly as I had such a strong inner prompting to use black and white in this particular artwork, I zeroed in on what Namgyal’s observations were of black and white from his experience of working with Mandalas.  This is what I have found thus far: “In the mysteries you are initiated on a black and white checkerboard which not only evokes order but also beauty.  However, some people do not find black and white beautiful.  In fact, pure white walls can drive some people crazy.  If you are using white it’s a good idea to introduce a small touch of some colour into it, perhaps magenta or a flesh colour.”

I of course ponder this reflection alongside my own work during these last couple weeks.  Much of what he says, to be honest, I am still not convinced with, especially what he describes in very qualitative and what feels like a highly subjective form of evaluation.

Yet, I agree fully with him on his own appreciation of color.

“Work boldly!  If you’re working with blue be sure it is a primary solid blue.  Most people can’t work with colour; their work is not alive because they don’t feel alive.  You must feel each colour in depth as you work with it.  Feel red, concentration; feel yellow, expansion; feel the lust for life, the passion of colour.” (p.28)

I’m especially intrigued by his suggestion that while working with color an artist is touching and working within laws that are inherent to the senses.  As he explains, “If you find one law of the senses you will find the law for all the senses.  If you discover one law in the universe, you can be sure it is universal.” 

I’ll update you on the progress of this painting shortly.