Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Wrapped Attention

K.B. Cummings | pen and ink, 2003

In Wrapped Attention, the eye is drawn inwards, along maze-like paths from the edge towards the "center." The spirals we see at first resolve into concentric rings, until, at a moment's inattention, they snap into their spiraling swirl again.

This piece is best viewed from a distance of six to ten feet; just far enough to defeat the finger's desire to trace the color patterns, yet close enough to allow the eye to trace them. Simply framed, the work measures 15"x19".

In this instance, the entire edge of the work is revealed, to allow that impression of entering a maze. Without these entry points, the piece would lose some of its power, as you can see in this hypothetical framing:

Wrapped Attention
Framed (as is): $950.00, shipping included.
Unframed: $850.00, shipping included.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Sun on Creek

Ben H. Cummings | acrylics, 1975

Untitled by the artist, Sun on Creek is an excellent example of Ben Cummings' brilliant ability to present the plash of water and the play of light and shadow around it. The creek (if it is a real location) was probably located in the artist's home county in Northern California—although it may have been a construct of Cummings' boyhood memories.

The ripples of turbulent water below the falls, and the cool green depths of the downstream pool, all show Cummings' power in presenting the play of water. But notice also the hazy cobbled beach in the background. With the brightly-lit stones that break the stream's flow, it seems to shimmer in the sun's heat. Above the water-line, it's a hot Sonoma County summer's day; below, an icy chill waits for bare feet and rolled-up dungarees.

The bright flash in the center of the picture is an artifact of photographing the piece. The light blue area and the shadowed circle below the rapids, and slightly to the right of center, are reflections on the glass. None of these elements appear in the original artwork.

The work itself measures 18"x23"; in its frame, the entire work is 27"x32".

Monday, July 18, 2005

Hedge of Night

K.B. Cummings | pen and ink, 2004

The writhing sprites and brooding eyes of Cummings' Hedge of Night reveal a very different vision than the simple math-moiré form of his July 2003 work, Green River Ordinants. Here, the underlying network structure seems to bleed through the superimposed colors—and yet, the curvilinear network we see traced in yellow and light green is not the same as the basal network.

The artist has instead made a fourth pattern leap out of the intersections of the "real" three networks that intersect in math-moiré art. Subtle and blatant at the same time, Hedge of Night is Cumming's most complex work to date.

As with previous framed pieces, this 15"x21" composition has been framed to reveal the underlying network structure. Matted to conceal these uncolored areas, the work would measure 13"x18".

Hedge of Night
Framed (as is): $1250.00, shipping extra.
Unframed: $900.00, shipping included.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Barley Fields of Nagir

B.H. Cummings | acrylic & watercolor

The clarity of the Himalayan air is reflected in this light scene, painted in 1987 by Ben H. Cummings, following a walking tour through these high-altitude farmlands. The sharp edges of the distant mountains, and the ultra-blue skies of the district, are faithfully respresented in Cummings' distinctive, photographic style.

The faint white line atop the mesa-like structure at the left is the west end of the Hispar Glacier, so the "mesa" is actually a moraine. Cummings was in his eighties when he traveled to the Himalayas; the vigor of the artist, even at this age, is seen in the rocky nature of the terrain he has just scaled in order to acquire this view.

Barley Fields of Nagir is just one of several paintings in Cummings' Himalayan Trip portfolio.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Green River Ordinants

K.B. Cummings | pen and ink

Relentlessly marching across the 15"x21" ground, successive waves of color seem to approach and retreat as you watch. Waves of shadow, perpendicular to the undulating colors, are less noticeable, but gradually become mobile as you study the piece.

A single swapped column of green gives the piece its title, and breaks the lock-step of the march, lending visual relief.

One of the simplest of Cummings' math-moirés, Green River Ordinants was framed to reveal the underlying structure of the moiré. Thus we can see, at the edges of the piece, the intersecting network of curves on which the waves of color are imposed.

Framed with these elements behind the mat, the finished piece would be 13"x19".

Green River Ordinants

Framed (as is): $850.00, shipping extra.
Unframed: $500.00, shipping included.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Math-Moiré: a definition

Abstract art, by definition, does not use native shapes and colors to represent real-life objects. The artist seeks the essence, lifting that quality out of the real and depicting it, instead.

Some artists, such as Piet Mondrian, abstract even further; Mondrian's paintings celebrate shape and color completely abstracted from the responsibility to represent anything but themselves.

Then there are the pen-and-ink "math-moiré" creations of K.B. Cummings. Cummings' father, Ben H. Cummings, was a noted landscape artist. Working in oil, watercolor, or acrylics, Ben Cummings painted exquisitely realistic scenes of the places where he had lived, hunted, and traveled in his long life. Cummings pere was especially known for capturing the movement and play of running water, and the foliage of near and distant trees and shrubs.

K.B. Cummings, on the other hand, developed a unique expression, entirely abstract, focused on the interplay of two intersecting regular networks of curves, and the visual construct of a third swirl of colors overlaid upon them. Each piece is of itself, a pure visual experience; it cannot be described, but can only be viewed. The colors are primary, vital; swirling in regular sweeps imposed by the mental map laid out by the artist.

Each is unique.

So join me as we explore the Math-Moiré art of K.B. Cummings, with an occasional juxtaposed piece from Ben H. Cummings.

Comments are always welcome.