If I look at the landscape paintings I am doing, there are ‘subplots’ happening which the width of the painting allows for. Subplot means ‘a subordinate plot in a play, novel or similar work’. When discussing a painting I think the word can be applied. In this context subplots are narratives, things going on – paint marks/shapes which have animacy – in the painting which are subordinate – they are going on in a part of the painting but do not fill the narrative or goings on of the whole painting. Take this plein air painting for instance:
A yellow curly shape snakes its way around the bottom left corner, whilst little marks of blue waver and jingle at the top and bottom right, whilst a sweeping, cool rushing blue-to-orange shape swings around and surges past the right edges of the painting, whilst a mass bulk of heavy purple wriggles on the left, whilst a little cluster of pink and purple shades in the centre-bottom perches peacefully, and I could carry on. Each of these described entities are subplots within the painting. They are going on around each other, but not one element take up the whole theme of the painting.
I talk about these sections of paint as animate entities that are doing something, busy with actions that concern themselves. This reflects how I experience a landscape from which I paint – witnessing a plethora of vibrant entities (queue Jane Bennett’s ‘Vibrant Matter’) all doing their own thing, of which I am part of.
The shapes in this painting allow for the impression of wriggling, moving, shaking, hovering, vibrating entities. This I think is due to the way the paint has been applied; the paint marks that appear animate have clear edges to them. Even if multiple layers of colour have been applied to one enitity, they mass together to show one clear shape, by having sharp edges and/or by having high contrast in colour and/or tone with the surrounding paint.
If I look at the other paintings I have made since being here in Devon, they don’t have the same strong impression of subplots of animate entities. Some painting have more of a sense than others, and in each painting that is decided by the definition of paint marks, as I was explaining above.
I am going to finish Jane Bennett’s ‘Vibrant Matter’ and consider how to use this visual language I have just acknowledged.