The arrow in this painting by Eleanor Ray, a favorite of Carlos San Millan, points to a glowing doorway, the focal point in many of San Millan’s paintings I have been sharing some of Carlos San Millan’s favorite painters, and we are nearly to the end of his list. So far I’ve posted Kim Frohsin, Mitchell Johnson, Yann Kebbi, Марина Цветаева (Marina Tsvetyeva), Sangram Majumdar, and Bato Dugarzhapov. Today is an artist who has distilled her painting all the way to the surface of the canvas. When done well, simplification can give the sensation that the process of distillation brought it to an obvious solution. But anyone who has attempted to simplify a composition while still juggling the functions of weight, balance, shape, direction, and form knows how complicated simplicity can be. These compositions by Eleanor Ray are distilled observations that bring us right to the surface of the paint, right to the awareness of texture, edges, colors, shapes, and form. They have a purity and solitude within them that reminds me of Agnes Martin. The architectures of light and shape remind of Hopper. There is a playfulness that reminds me of Lois Dodd. Eleanor Ray’s studio is small, and these paintings are very small. Sometimes 6×8″, sometimes up to 13″. If you are looking at them on your computer, you might be experiencing them life size. The painting does not tell us how she got there – the surface is thickly opaque, solid. She has not left us a trail of process to follow. They show only us one moment, the final moment, as if created in an instant. She says most of her paintings are completed in a single sitting. “Most of them are done in one sitting of three or four hours, but not as a rule. Sometimes I do go back and rework paintings and I often make second and third attempts at the same idea or image. (…) I usually draw a little bit before I start painting.” – Eleanor Ray Ray is a painter in Brooklyn painter with an MFA from the New York Studio School, for which the Seattle Artist League is growing considerable affection. Regarding edges… “Having a soft meeting of colors feels more tactile and spatial to me (than a hard line); you can imagine feeling around the edges that way, rather than making a sharp line that kills the space.” – Eleanor Ray in an interview with Gwendolyn Zabicki in Figure/Ground Windows “Of course many painters have been drawn to the image of windows because of their natural relationship to paintings themselves, with the framing of an organized, distinct visual field. But the relationship there isn’t quite fixed. It’s shifting. That can be especially interesting to see in places where painted space is competing with or surrounding a window, or maybe the real window serves as the light source in the painting, as in Leonardo’s ‘Last Supper’. Or where a painting and a window live side by side, as if offering two options, as in the monk’s cells at the San Marco Monastery in Florence. Each cell there has one painting and one window, on the same wall, and the shape of the fresco mimics the shape of the window. The window is actually recessed from the wall, making the larger and closer painting appear to come forward into real space.” – Eleanor Ray Compositions, brushwork… I see class ideas in every post. Lendy and I are finalizing the schedule for winter this week. We have new ideas, and new teachers, including special guest star Fran O’Neill from the New York Studio School. Good things are on the way!