The Hungry Eye

I got an email from my old friend Kathi recently. She had visited the blog and seen my work for the first time.

“The style you’re using is so you — big, bold, colorful…” she wrote.

This comment made me happy but also reignited a worry I’ve had. Maybe my paintings are too lacking in detail. Of course I consulted Marcy, my mentor in all things artistic.

“Your eyes like to have something to chew on,” she said. “That’s why you like Elmer Bishoff and all that obscure, interesting, unspecific stuff going on in his paintings.”

I decided to consider this possibility. Bishoff the Figurative Artist is my hero and I like some his least specific figurative works. There are a couple of scenes in a library or waiting room, with figures obscured in shadow and light. And, yes, my eyes enjoy the ambiguity…and the workout.

Then I went to the Women Impressionist show at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor. (And what a show that is!)

Many of the works are portraits, some describing pretty specifically a real person’s face. They were wonderful. But not really me.

Then my friend Laurie saw what would be her favorite painting in the show: A woman at her mirror in her dressing room. And, she had no face.

Now we’re talking, I thought. Something for my eyes to chew on.

But my favorite painting in the show was further along the way: an interior scene with three women. It was called Interior at the Milliner’s. Really just a black background with three multi-shade grey smeary blobs. But very subtle blobs they were. Really gave my eye something to chew on.

I’ve decided not to worry about adding detail to my paintings. I’ll leave it to my hungry eye to work out the specifics or just to enjoy a mysterious ride. I hope you’ll do the same.

By Joanne

Joanne Taeuffer is an expressive painter. She lives in the Berkeley Hills and Healdsburg, CA, with her husband and their black cats, Oscar Wild and Percy.

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