“Sunrays” – the title to this piece is obvious because it’s painted right on the painting. Usually I name my paintings with whatever random word or phrase comes to mind as I’m trying to think names up but here I used a word in the painting itself. It’s another one of my eighteen by twenty four inch acrylic on canvas paintings. As I look at it I find it to be a hard painting to write about because it seems simple and straight-forward to me. It’s all about the word and the image.

I find that this is an image I especially respond to. Or maybe it’s an image that I find peaceful and that’s a change for me. Often my images are challenging the viewer but not here. This one is a cute little bird coming out of half an egg. There is no hard gaze from a human face here. And being that it’s not a person and not a face the image is a little unusual for me. I think it’s also an image that I’ve used before. I can’t quite remember but I think I made a small five by seven gouache painting using this chick and egg. I don’t think it was too similar to this one though. I found it to be a fun image and wanted to do something more with it. Sometimes that’s the way it is with small works finding their way into bigger ones.

Overall this painting has a bit of a theatrical presentation. I don’t remember thinking that as I was making it (it’s from May 23, 2012) but as I look at it now the “Sunrays” type looks like it’s on the front of a stage and that the egg is sitting on the top of the stage. Further emphasizing the stage motif are the purple vertical lines on the top of the painting that start to resemble a curtain. The green and blue behind the egg form a painted backdrop as on a stage. I’d say the painting is about the presentation of the bird.

This painting is a good example of my use of type and images together. It’s hard to explain why I like the two together so much but they create a space in my mind that’s different than anything else I can think of. It’s a mystery to me why it works for me but it does. I can’t even describe why some words work and others don’t. I don’t remember what other words I tried with this image but “Sunrays” does the job for me there. There is nothing literal about it so it makes my brain try and find connections. I like searching for connections.

The type itself is simple single weight lettering. In other paintings I’ve actually painted words in some sort of professional typeface but here I didn’t. I went with block printing of the letters. I did fill up the space as much as I could with the positive forms of the letters. The “S” and the beginning and the “S” at the end are both a little different than the other letters and give the word some character. It’s also dark blue on orange so there is a lot of contrast between the letters and the background. The orange of the background tries to move forward in my eye but gets beaten back by the letters, There is also some light purple on some of the letter edges to give the letters a slight bit of depth and sparkle.

It could be that one of the things I like about this painting is how calm and ordered it is. Most of my paintings have a lot more chaos going on in them than this one does. The egg and the chick sit nicely in the center of the painting in front of the painting’s deepest space. The red of the egg makes the space even deeper as it pushes against the green backdrop. Often red and green, being complimentary colors, will fight each other for the eye’s attention but here so much separation is created between them that they sit quietly together. The peaceful blue of the sky also sits back in space nicely partly because we expect it to. A blue sky in the background meets our expectations and therefore behaves as it should. The yellow of the chick’s head stands out well in the field of blue. The purple up top is dense and heavy but balances out the strong orange on the bottom.

All the little lines, brush strokes, and tick marks I put on this painting add to the harmony of it. I often use such marks to create action as the eye moves across a painting from point to point but here the lines follow the contours of the objects in the painting. The curved lines along the sides of the egg emphasize its shape and widen and stabilize the egg. The lines and marks on the left and right act like columns and give strength to the sides of the image while keeping the eye from wandering off. Even the lines and yellow marks on top of the chick’s head calm things down and keeps my eye from flying away. It’s a bit of a bull’s eye painting and that’s not usual for me.

“Sunrays”. I keep coming back to that word when I look at this. What does it mean? I know it means the rays of the sun and that gives me a warm feeling but why is it there? I know it’s odd for the artist who put it there to ask such a question but still I do. Words and images together can create feelings of mystery. It’s the simplicity of “Sunrays” that I like too. It’s an easy to understand word. I’ve used less simple words before and even random ones but simple definitely works here for me. This is also the only time I’ve used a word in a painting in a while.