Saturday, September 14, 2013


"Composure" by Jim Carpenter, Acrylic on Paper, 11" x 11"

Composure: Painting #11 Day #14 in 30 in 30 Challenge 

I no longer can remember what my start looked like. The only thing I can remember is that I painted and lifted and painted and lifted a lot, and that figure on the right, this woman of great composure walking toward the viewer, was adamant about being there.  And it remained the only clear thing I could see in the paper during the entire process. I layered in paint to isolate the figure and that gave way to hints of a misty environment - given some substance by the second figure seeming to be walking behind and following.  

I like to think of many of the images in my paintings as the remnants and shadows of paintings laid down by artists of long ago, paintings that have been lost, long hidden, and I'm un-covering or dis-covering them. This particular image has those qualities, so I wanted to preserve it. But at the same time I felt that there needed to be contrast, something that was not uncovered yet, but rather remained somewhat buried or untouched, vibrant and obscure.  So I started layering paint on the area to the left, added some line and stamped in the figure "lifting the sky," the single most holistic pattern of Qigong, the ancient Chinese self-healing art form.  It's a composite that juxtaposes the covered and the uncovered, the light and the dark, the warm and the cool, the interior and the exterior, and what may be different moments in time.  

If all the delicate balances are correct and the viewer's eye is carried in the right way from one part of the painting to another then we can speak not merely of composite but of composition.  

Once again my theatre training comes to my aid. I understand that I am splitting the focus in this painting, dragging the focus of the viewer from the gold figure "lifting the sky" up left to the main figure down right.  If I didn't have this in my toolbox from directing plays, I'd be afraid to take the risk of doing this in a painting.  But, I want the viewer to consider both figures and draw conclusions on their own.  It's an invitation to the viewer to compose their own story about what is happening in the painting. 


  1. It's fascinating to read that your figures appear from the painting and lifting of paint. I tried it a few times, it never worked for me. LOL