Chamidae Ford

Chamidae Ford


Color Passing Through, an abstract painting by Lois Gold, reminds us of the vibrancy of colors that nature can hold. Thick layers of paint create a textured and dynamic image filled with orange, yellows, pinks, and blues.  Reminding us that nature is not limited to dark browns and greens, warmth exists in the outdoors too. Through the layering of colors, Gold manages to capture a moment in nature that lasts only briefly. When light can refract and change, mix and morph into a glowing canvas which you must pause in your very moment and absorb. It is the sky before the sun sets. When the rolling clouds allow the light to turn red and orange before morphing into a glorious yellow. The spontaneous approach Gold took to the final layer adds a level of realness that echo’s nature. The unpredictable and the unplanned are always the most captivating and memorable.

What happens when we succumb? Resignation, a painting by Steven Curtis, poses this question. I feel compelled to begin at the top of the beginning and work my way down, like submerging my body in water, feet first. Painted on a walnut wood panel with traditional oils, deep forest greens introduce us to the painting by Curtis. Setting a tone of darkness that cloaks Resignation. One does not feel hope looking at the image but rather an ominous peace. A calm before the storm. As you move down the painting, the light starts to seep in through shades of blues and yellows. Along the bottom of the frame, a young woman is submerged in water, only her face feeling the cool air of the world around her. You can imagine the water brushing against the woman's forehead, her floating body slightly bobbing in the soft breeze. There is a coolness to the painting, through these darker hues, Curtis alludes to the fact that this is not a summer dip. The piece lacks the energy of summertime. There are no children splashing or teens laying alongside the lake. The sun is not sparkling across the water. It appears Curtis has pulled inspiration from Wisconsin, where the piece was painted. You can feel the Wisconsin wilderness, right before autumn, emanating from the panel. I feel it must be her last swim of the year, before the lake freezes over, and the snow starts to fall. The soft ripples in the water suggest it's calm, she is the only one around, others are unable to handle the crisp weather. There is also a feeling of isolation that accompanies the cold hues of the painting. She is alone, she alone is resigning to the moment at hand, to the water, to nature. 

“Resignation” is often a term associated with pain, giving in, giving up, but this painting lacks emotional hardship. While it is cool in color, it doesn’t feel depressing, it feels grounding. It is meditative. She is not giving in to pain but rather giving in to peace. 

The color of her lips and the rouge on her cheeks give this piece life. Without these hints of berry, the whole message would disappear. Instead of marveling at the living natural world, we would be forced to reckon with the death that exists all around us. These small additions create a warmer atmosphere, balancing out the dark greens. With her lips slightly parted you can almost hear her breathe slipping out. Warm exhales clash with the cool breeze. Likewise, through ripples in the water, Curtis creates movement. Adding to the idea that this image is not stagnant, it is alive. It suggests we are catching the woman just as she has laid her head back, the exact moment she has decided to resign. She is not deep in the throes of meditation; she is only beginning. Her peace is fresh and new, there is more to come. 

The painting is modeled after a photo by David Vasiljevic, while very similar, Curtis makes the woman in the foreground more encompassing. The surrounding world is more of an idea than an actual image. The greens in Curtis’ paintings remind one of the forest and brush without creating a real image of it. Setting the scene without taking away from the moment that the subject is experiencing. This focus urges the viewer to wonder 'what she is thinking?' 'What are the thoughts in her mind, the images behind her eyelids? Is she pondering a fight between friends? Planning her evening? Wondering what her next step is for her career?' But the longer you gaze at her, her face devoid of any wrinkles or worry lines, completely relaxed, you begin to think she does not have a real thought in the world. She is just existing in the cool water and letting it fall away. She has mastered the art of turning her mind off. This piece acts as an interlude, a break between Point A and Point B. We do not know where she was before this, or where she will go after, but for these fleeting moments, she is one with the water. 

In many ways, Resignation acts as a reminder. Passing by this painting pulls you in, distracts you from the world around you, it gives you your peace back. It urges you to slow down, to pause, to let the water hold you. In a society that favors productivity over everything. That encourages a life of lively outings, loud bars, 10-hour workdays, Resignation is offering you an alternative. What if you resigned to the natural world? What if you laid your body in a cool lake and let yourself float? Would your life fall apart? Resignation suggests that your life may actually come together.