I have been thinking of the pleasures of tradition as I've been listening to new music at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival this summer. Yesterday, in particular, during a concert of works by young composers-in-residence, the new sounds elicited from classically trained musicians on their conventional instruments had my ears perking up. The music sounded both old and fresh, familiar and newly introduced. This dichotomy engages one's deep memories while surprising us into paying complete attention. Nothing, not rhythm, tonality, harmony or melody can be taken for granted, and yet the format (in this case) was the string quartet, as well-established as can be.
Something similar operates in my paintings, with their traditional framed formats. The watercolor medium still employs gum arabic from acacia trees and many of the pigments have been used for centuries, altho some are now synthetic. On the other hand, the translucent synthetic paper I use (Yupo) has only been available since the end of the last century, so the ability to layer transparencies is new, and Yupo's non-absorbent surface causes the paint to behave in unprecedented ways. Abstraction itself now has a grand tradition of over a hundred years but offers plenty of unexplored territory.
Release #2/Wayne is another in the series of elegies for my husband. There's something about the color and softness, the upright format and upward-rising visual flow that feels to me like an abstract portrait of him.