I was thinking this morning about the kinds of compositions I want to do. More and more, I've been thinking that so much is in composition. Of course how you use paint, how completely you finish, how you see and use color, etc., are all crucial too, but your choice of composition is maybe the deepest basis for the emotional content of your work.
Monet's water lily paintings were such a break, such an invention/revolution in terms of composition. How he used paint within them, his level of finish, how he "saw" were huge too, but the view into a pond of an infinite sky with infinite and yet perfectly cohesive color were such as hadn't been seen (from what I've read, anyway). I'm drawn to compositions that see intimacy, emotion, and color all in places that aren't typical landscape scenes -- that are fragments abounding with infinity, like the water lily paintings.
Now I've come full circle in this line of thinking, though, because I also feel that some level of distortion, or abstraction, or mere suggestion, can make a painting more immediate and emotionally affecting -- certainly more so than a very tight, realistic rendering. Maybe I want to see a distortion that arises from an emotional or visceral or aesthetic response, rather than from a more calculated assertion of style. Or maybe I'm just looking for a type of response that mirrors my own?
Who's to say, of course, whether a painting is the product of emotion or reason; whether an artist's use of distortion brings a viewer closer to an experience or holds him outside of it; or whether it's preferable to feel enthralled or alienated. Just the viewer, and different viewers will disagree.