By Thom Wright
So much has happened in America over the past month that marks a turning point of the Covid pandemic and its impact. We painters just continue working in our studios, thinking about the day-to-day news and assessing how will we ever reach a return to normal again. However, here in Southern California and over so much of the nation, vaccinations are making a difference, and we can now almost not wear masks, etc. and begin to reengage with our friends and community.
How the art scene will emerge is still in question. But I continue making art, as I have over the past year, on a day-to-day basis, where my abstract painting series, “In Balance with Nature”, has been and continues to be my primary focus. The pandemic is slowly rolling back, but Climate Change continues. And even though our economy significantly slowed down during the pandemic, the net global effect on fossil fuel emissions in 2020 is only a 10% decrease from the rate of change of emissions growth. My personal contributions reduction has been significant this year, having added a second solar array system, and my daughter has leased an electric vehicle that now provides full daily recharge. The country’s conversion to clean energy program appears to be the real beginning of global change.
My focus on this painting series shows several changes and new directions that I want to discuss in my latest abstract painting, “In Balance with Nature #62”. A half-way stage of the painting is shown below.
“In Balance with Nature #62, Stage 3”, 66” x 48”, Oil on Canvas, Thom Wright 2021
The general design of the painting is structured by four vertical rectangles in a vertical format, with yellows of descending values from right to left. At the bottom are my usual geometric tree forms as triangles and quadralaterals, in a wide variety of color hues that relate to the yellows. The large canvas relative to the tree shapes dominates the design, rather than the trees in distress. In addition, the tree colors are somewhat overpainted with the four yellows of the atmosphere as above, that in effect reduces their presence and portrays the impact of climate change happening on our forests. Rising above the trees are linear shapes suggesting the transfer of the chemical by-products caused by dying trees and forest fires. These linear shapes are empty line gestures in this case, rather than adding more colors to suggest emissions of smoke, pollutants and carbon dioxide. Thus, the four vertical rectangles of the atmosphere become hazy and their warm yellow hues dominate the design. Is this a reflection of our state of on-going climate change? Definitely so, and the forest fire season is only beginning.
At the top of the canvas are horizontal bands of primary colors, and they speak via comparison with the rest of the colors in the painting. The wider and lighter blue band at the top contains more shape activity, with blue vectors darting left and right in a lighter blue area. Diagonal lines from the top descend from the left and right sides into the central atmospheric yellows, making an interplay of triangular shapes that relate to the uprising linear vectors. This interplay of shapes and diagonal lines is similar to my earlier paintings, adding to the dynamics of up/down movements and interactions with the tree shapes at the bottom. In this painting, however, the yellow bands of space still dominate the composition.
“In Balance with Nature #62”, 66” x 48”, Oil on Canvas, Thom Wright 2021
In the completed painting shown above, minor changes have been made to heighten the abstract design, without shifting the dominance of space. The brightest colors are placed at the top in horizontal bands, that serve as comparative primary colors and complement the design. The four vertical yellows are now divided by white vertical stripes with thin color lines within, again to clarify the strength of the four vertical rectangles. My feeling is that the fiery atmospheres are moving from bad to worse. Several diagonal lines are strengthened also to focus the importance of the atmospheric interchange in the central area. To show the scale of this painting, I include a photo below of the framed painting mounted in my living room with me beside it. There really is a sense of drama with the larger size.
Thom Wright with his latest painting, “In Balance with Nature #62”, 2021
As in any abstract painting, there are many color and shape relationships that are effective and fit with the general design, without having stated reasons for their size, shape, color, and contrast. These are usually described as refinements of the parts to the whole, that the work must always be an effective abstract with a dynamic composition of movements and relationships of the parts to parts and to the synthesis of the whole. I hope that my choices here are acceptable, and still convey my theme of climate change as coming to dominate our forests and our lives. I welcome your comments.