Saturday, January 9, 2010

The spaces in between

Many people are attracted to the skeletal structure of trees. Trunks and branches have a strong presence that demand attention. But for me the real action happens in the spaces between the branches where the intricate play of leaves produce delicate patterns.
Messenger, 2009, mixed media on board

Messenger is a mixed media painting from my Reading a Garden series. The sun shining through the vines that sheltered this statue in the Millennium Garden reminded me of stained glass. My mind wandered to consider what would happen to this scene over time. Voila! a painting is created.

There are many landscape painters who have interesting ways of rendering "the space in between". Two of my favourites are Canadian artists Jennifer Woodburn and Mandy Budan.

Spring Light (2009) 11 x 14, acrylic, Jennifer Woodburn

Jennifer Woodburn grew up in Saskatchewan and now lives in Ontario. She is primarily a self-taught artist, who has relied on occasional workshops and classes for her education. Working usually in acrylics, emphasizing line, shape and colour Jennifer creates simpler forms from what she sees in the landscape.

Jennifer says:
Mine is a graphic take on life. Through the relative chaos, I find the design in nature and organize it on canvas. Using line and simplifying what I see, I look for interesting shapes and colours, and explore the spaces in between. Rhythm is found, and exaggerated. With an upbeat palette and a bit of whimsy for good measure, I capture Southern Ontario landscapes and rural architecture in acrylic paint on canvas.

I am attracted to Jennifer's work for its lively colour combinations and the rhythm she instills through her use of line and colour. This less is more approach helps the viewer to see the strong rhythms and patterns in nature. Her ability to synthesize the landscape makes me realize how much detail I could delete from my work. Jennifer has many more works on her blog and website.

Fall Again (2009) 12 x 12, acrylic on canvas, Jennifer Woodburn

Mandy Budan paints abstracts of the landscape. She emphasizes and rearranges elements in very unexpected ways. Her colours are strong and she relies on repetition of colour and shapes to create intricate patterns. One of the most amazing aspects of her work is that when you look at it up close it appears to be random, colourful shapes but when you see it at a distance it looks very realistic. How do all those little bits and pieces of bits create realism?

Summer Morning (2008) 24 x 30, acrylic on panel, Mandy Budan

Spring Light (2008) 11 x 14, acrylic on panel, Mandy Budan

I find it quite amazing that Mandy can break each painting down into such patterned parts and then create a realistic painting in the end. Her colour usage is so vibrant and often unexpected when you take a close look. While I've chosen two paintings featuring trees, Mandy paints different aspects of the landscape.

Also check out the paintings of Alison Dunhill, a British artist, who uses colour and fluidity of expression to convey the emotional impact of the landscape. There is a balance in focus between the more obvious structure of trees and the spaces in between in her tree paintings.

Are there other "spaces in between" that have been explored through art?


Glen Hartjes said...

I enjoy reading your blog, you have a way with words...
I noticed you live in Newfoundland.
I visited there two summers ago, loved it and the people I met. I look forward to returning!
I traveled by motorcycle for five days photographing the wonderful scenes of Newfoundland. If you have some time and care to view a few photos from my trip, there is a small slide show on the second page of my blog [click older posts].
All my best,

hwfarber said...

Perfect timing for a post on "the spaces in between." I just finished reading Edward Tufte's "Envisioning Information," so I'm deliberately looking at spaces between. He, in turn, cited Alber's "1 + 1 equals 3."

On your blog today, you've provided great examples in paintings. In the book, charts, schedules and maps were used--concise, easy-to-read, yet beautiful information was the goal.

Margaret Ryall said...

Hi Glen,
I will check out your slide show. I'm always interested in what people are attracted to when they visit a place especially a place I know so well. Thanks for the kind words about my blog. I hope you do return to NL. My husband keeps a motorcycle at out summer house near Bonavista. The riding is good there, you have the roads to yourself!

Margaret Ryall said...

Hi Hallie,
Isn't it uncanny how information just pops up when we are into a topic. I don't know either of the books you mentioned but I will look them up. I'm intrigued.

Kathy said...

Margaret - I like your thoughtful approach to "spaces in between." You provide beautiful and inspiring examples. In a way, I see art as primarily dealing with "spaces in between." That is, we all observe what's around us and use it to inform our art, but we have to find connections that aren't obvious in order to make our work meaningful. Those "connections" occur somewhere between the realm of reality and our imaginations. Those are what I would call the "spaces in between."
Thanks for this thought-provoking post!

Four Seasons in a Life said...

Dear Margaret,

I like the way you have integrated your work with other artist. It in itself becomes a lesson in art and in the end enriches the reader.

Thank you for sharing,

Four Seasons in a Life said...

I just came across this ink that might interest you, as it is a photographers view on trees.

-Don said...

Wow, Margaret! Great post, great artwork, and great comments. I don't know that I have anything that I can add...

Wait! I just thought of someone who's work made me think of spaces in between... Piet Mondrian... starting with his paintings of trees in the 19-teens through his "Compositions" of the 30's and 40's. Now I need to go research him a bit to see if spaces had anything to do with his philosophy...

Keep these great, thought-provoking posts coming. I love 'em...


Margaret Ryall said...

What a great comparison. I like your thought about the creation of art as existing in between the realm of reality and our imagination. I never thought about it quite like that. Readers add so much to a blog post.

I will have to poke around and find out about Mondrian. I am not well versed about his work. If you find out anything else let me know.

Thanks for your reference. I looked it up last night and the trees are certainly solitary!. Very interesting work. I also love the new design of your blog and will have a good look later today.

layers said...

good samples of an artist who uses nature-- breaks it down to the essential elements and conveys space, shape, color in elemental forms and yet you still know they are trees or nature based.

ArtPropelled said...

Great post, Margaret. I like Mandy Budan's work in particular. Thanks for the link .... I'm off to explore.

Mary Anne Cary said...

Great site Margaret. I like your examples and lesson for all of us.

Mandy said...

Thank you for including me in this post! I love the whole idea of the spaces between - concentrating on them I enjoy discovering what they surround. :)

I love the light on Messenger, very warm and evocative of dappled summer afternoons and i especially like how the statue seems to be becoming a part of it.

rivergardenstudio said...

I love your "spaces in between"post and "messenger" The light playing between the branches, the leaves almost seem to dance... actually in all of these. roxanne