“A Rose’s Journey”
"Once the fragrance hit,
I had to follow it.
Consideration is the lilt I give my chin.
Dissection of the greatest cause.
Curiosity accompanying awe.
Time to go!
planning to bestow
the morphed nature
of my being/our being."
The idea for this painting series came from wanting to explore how we visually remember things. The visual integrity of an item seems to disintegrate the further we get from the time we see it. The more we try to hold onto it, the more we “fill in” the bits that we have lost with time. I saw this concept repeat itself various times as I contemplated it over a few months.
One particular time was when I was out in my yard and encountered a rose. I took it inside and later gave it to my small daughter. Each step of this somewhat ordinary journey, the visual impression of the rose shifted into something new. I decided to paint the same rose 5 different chronological ways depending on the phase of its journey.
If the rose (being completely identical physically) were put into these different scenarios, wouldn’t it be remembered differently? Wouldn’t this be an endless source to want to express?
First, just inhaling the fragrance, not seeing it at all. We live in a sensory world, and sometimes the first way we experience something is through its fragrance. In this case I did smell the rose before I saw it. I was also moving slowly enough in my world to be able to have the chance to follow the fragrance.
Then, upon examining all the physical details, I just tried to really “look” at the petals and how they were attached, what the texture was, and I tried to consider how this was not just a generic rose, but how it was it’s own unique character.
After that, I tried to see what I had in common with the way that it was made. I don’t know how to explain this phase very well. It’s just that whenever I learn of something that happens in nature I try to see how it applies to me as a human. One time while studying biology I was fascinated to learn of symbiotic relationships between ants and caterpillars. The caterpillars produce sugars and amino acids for the ants and in return the ants act as bodyguards for the caterpillar. I instantly tried to think if I was an ant or caterpillar in some of my close relationships. I could definitely see how some of my friends depended on me for “sweetness”, while others depended on me for “protection”. So in this phase I tried to open my mind to how this simple rose could relate to me, or help me draw some interesting correlation just by trying to take a poet’s consideration. Or maybe a scientist’s consideration. Or maybe somewhere in between. Just simple open mindedness and time spent wondering.
The 4th phase was how the rose changed as it was being plucked and taken. This must be abrubt for the rose. Does it come as a surprise, or is it like, “oh yeah I knew that was going to happen, all my neighbors have the same dumb destiny” or maybe it’s like “yes! Finally it’s my turn, yahoo!” Or could be like teenage Eeyore…”whatevs, bound to happen to me eventually”. Ha ha.
Then finally, as the rose is carried off and delivered to another person. How it changes once again because it is carrying a message to the other person. In this case it was just me finding the rose and plucking it and giving it to my daughter because I thought it was nice. Just an ordinary gesture given a physical manifestation.
Just as this series is about the phases of the journey of an ordinary rose, it is also about the tension and motion between colors as they express something “more”. I intentionally did not want to depict a rose, but rather give the impression of its form in order to get to the big idea.
I chose napthol red first because of it’s vibrancy and ability to just be “itself” amongst all the other colors that inevitably get mixed in as the form takes shape. Napthol red is strong and piercing and I knew it woud be the featured color that others would react to in some way.
Each piece uses approximately the same palette and they were all painted somewhat simultaneously. I did allow each layer of oil paint to fully dry in between sessions, so I kind of worked on them on a rolling basis. The blues and reds were meant to kind of frame the form and suggest plant life, or the idea of sky. The tension between being out of focus and very crisp is all about the tension between knowing and mystery…it is meant to be reflective of the essence of the tension we all have when we are trying to recall a memory that is just out of grasp.
This is a very exciting concept and I look forward to exploring it again in a future series. Usually upon completion of a project I feel like a calling or inpiration has been answered, but upon completion of this project, I had more questions that came as rapid fire.
Doesn’t the memory of a particular rose depend on all of the associations attached to it? Do I remember it differently if I am sobbing my eyes out at a funeral? Or what if I see that rose at my best friend’s wedding? Or as I’m rushing past looking out the greasy window of a bus? How about leaning over it with a bright eyed toddler?