Acrylic on Canvas Panel
This is the second blog on Mood Painting. Part 1 talked about the mood of the artist. In Part 2, I talk about the mood of the painting/art. The mood of the painting is the heart and essence of most artist’s work.
While not the same thing, mood and art are so closely related that it’s hard to imagine one without the other. For what reason does one create art other than to evoke a response in either him-or herself or in the viewer of the art?
I think the four mood drivers in a piece of art are: color, technique, genre, and motif, not necessarily, but essentially, in that order. Here’s why.
Color (or lack of color) is the first thing that catches my attention in an art museum, art gallery, private collection, or online artwork. Technically, it’s a physical thing about how we perceive light (its wavelengths) on our retina. But much more than that, it’s the sensation we get when we see a color that excites or relaxes or confuses us. Colors evoke a mood. It’s well known that red creates a feeling of energy and excitement. There’s so much research on the effect of color on people that I won’t attempt to cover it here, other than to say it’s most important in creating the mood of a painting. Perhaps ironically, one of the most striking pieces of art for me was an all-white canvas with a regular, rough texture that evoked a mood of extraordinary peace.
By technique, I mean the method, process, or style in which the art or painting is rendered. For example, is it bold or serene? Is it tight or loose? Is it realistic or abstract? Is it two- or three dimensional? Is it violent or calming? Is it finely detailed? Is it overwhelming? Just what is it about it that makes you feel the way you do?
Genre is, for better or worse, the human name artists have given to types and/or periods of art. When we see one piece, or a whole gallery of similar art, we may experience a feeling of ‘being there’ wherever ‘there’ is. For example, suppose you’re viewing a traveling exhibit of Baroque art (roughly from mid-1500s to mid-1600s). I see it as dark, ornate, a little gory, with references to heavenly things (you, of course, probably see something else). It’s a completely different mood than when I’m looking at art from the Abstract Expressionism period right after World War II (the art of Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollack, and Mark Rothko). See what I mean?
Motif seems obvious. It’s the content, simply “what you’re painting,” as one artist told me. The subject matter, of course, will evoke some mood or feeling that reflects your life experiences and, by that very thing, makes it deeply personal. Think of how differently you feel (or not) when viewing The Scream, which was Today’s Image in the last Orbisplanis Art Blog, as opposed to viewing Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
In the Studio
Finally I'm back in the studio, and will tie in the topic of mood painting with a recent, small painting of mine and Today’s Image. It was from a reference photo in a book that made me think of faraway places on a summer vacation. The mood is one of freedom and light with a hint of the unknown as depicted in the descending stairs. I hope you enjoy it.