The Circle of Infinity
Multiple Paintings in a Single Image
Circle of Infinity Metal Prints
It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to, the feeling for the things themselves, for reality, is more important than the feeling for pictures.
Vincent van Gogh
Creating anything takes time and often involves experimentation. It’s a process that starts with an idea, and then develops and evolves as it is brought to form. The perfect sandwich (whatever it is) didn’t happen overnight.
Constantin Brancusi was fascinated with the form of a bird’s flight. He had an “idea” and repeated and refined it over and over using different materials and methods in the expression of his vision, modifying and refining the form of “Bird in Space” for nearly twenty years.
New technologies offer new possibilities. How would Da Vinci, Van Gogh, or Renoir have used today’s methods had they been available to them? They may have found them abhorrent, or they may have seen them as an avenue to further the expression of their own visions.
I began experimenting with printing my paintings on metal a few years ago because I wanted them to be able to be displayed outdoors. The weatherproof nature of metal prints is what drew me to them, but I found other qualities in them that I appreciated; the high-gloss finish and particularly the way that they duplicate the highlights and reflections of gold and silver leaf.
Some months ago I decided to make metal prints of the animals in my paintings. I started by cropping the paintings down to the space around each animal. This worked well because it placed the animals up close, it fulfilled the idea of making portraits of each animal. But the landscape details were mostly eliminated. In the original paintings I made the landscapes specifically for each animal. I created their habitats with the intention of showing them peacefully in their natural environment. Without the rest of their lands around them the composition of the new pieces was not nearly as interesting as in the original paintings. Still, they were portraits of the animals, and at the time I thought they worked. I printed a batch of these new designs onto metal. I was preparing for an upcoming art event, and wanted to try them out in a small and affordable size. I showed them at that event; some people responded to them, pointing out their favorite animal and the like, but they didn’t catch that many people’s eyes. I chalked it up to how they were small in size, and laying flat on a table. They were not that noticeable to visitors strolling through my gallery tent.
After the show I placed a few of these new metal prints on miniature easels around our home. Over time as I lived with the pieces I realized that some of them were not working for me. I mentioned it to Jeff, and he responded, “That’s interesting, I was thinking the same thing, it just came to me recently. They don’t grab my attention like the paintings do. The animals don’t feel grounded with so little land around them.”
It was clear, time to start designing again. So, I considered how I might make them more dynamic. This time I approached it differently. I let go of my fixed ideas about how my art should be presented, let go of the boundaries between paintings and graphic art. I experimented with placing alternate backgrounds, lifted from other paintings, behind the form of the animal, so that the creature itself became the dominate feature in the composition. I combined elements from two or three paintings into one new piece. Each element was carefully isolated and then seamlessly added to the new image. Some of the landscapes have the opacity reduced, so that the non-human form stands out bright in the foreground. Some call for dramatic backgrounds, the moon and stars. Others call for more subtle backgrounds and rich colors for the outer square. It was a revelation, and fun for me to see how many ways the elements of my paintings could be combined. It was interesting and useful to experiment, to be expansive, and to jump into the playful process of trying things out.
For the grounding of each piece I chose a circle inside of a square. I love this shape; the symmetry of it resonates with me. The circle draws you in, and frames each scene like a portal, a moon window. The circle represents infinity, as it is continuous, or unending. It also represents oneness or unity. The square, which traditionally represents the earth, or the manifest and measurable world, contains the circle. I have been familiar with this form all of my life, and have always responded to it.
Once the designs were finalized, there were fifteen new pieces for the “Circle of Infinity” collection. I sent them to the printer, this time choosing to print them larger so that the pieces have more visual impact.
When I opened the box of new metal prints I was delighted by what I found. They give real focus to each animal, setting them in the foreground to be fully and easily viewed, even from a distance. The combination of the paintings works well to create entirely new images. The colors are rich and accurate, the gold leaf areas shine. The metal surface is glossy and reflective and has an entirely different quality than watercolor on paper. Light plays on the surface of the metal in interesting ways; it changes as the day changes. These images worked for me, and when I saw them printed on metal I was happy that they exceeded my expectations.
I have found many times in the creative process that I have to keep my eyes open so that I don’t get bound to any idea. Visions are not made of concrete. They constantly change and suggest new directions, possibilities. They teach you things, and they make you step outside of your usual way of doing things. They get you to question what you are doing, to get to the root of what you are aiming for. They can lead you to fresh ideas and techniques, and breakthroughs are, sometimes, the result. This was one of those times.
Now these metal prints are ready for your perusal and consideration, and I’m glad to be sharing them with others, with you. I am always interested in feedback about my art. I value hearing about what people respond to the most. In this generative time I welcome your input, and would love to hear which pieces give you the “wow” response, or the “ooh là là” exclamation.
If you would like to see more examples of Circle of Infinity metal prints you can take a look at the slider at the top of this article, or check out the Metal Prints page.