Newberry, Ocean Ave in Santa Monica, pastel

Light Warps Space

Newberry, Ocean Ave in Santa Monica, 2010, pastel, 16x20"
Newberry, Ocean Ave in Santa Monica, 2010, pastel, 16×20″

Brightness or light in a painting or drawing creates a kind of 3d warp of space on a 2d surface. It is as if the light makes things more round and solid. It is strange feeling seeing it live and then recreating the light vibrations as art. There is a lot of stretch and pull of shapes and things in this pastel. It is one of my favorites for that reason.

Related to real life perception is that I hate Plato’s ideal of the perfect form out there in the ether, it is clueless from an art perceptive. For example, a woman’s foot, there is no way to recreate it in art with any vitality only from an image in the artist’s head. It will miss nuance, anatomy, and energy that an artist gets from observational drawing of a living model. I couldn’t make up this landscape out of my head with nearly this amount of nuance and power.

My parents were born in Los Angeles, and both sets of grandparents lived there, I remember playing tennis in Santa Monica as a little kid, and later as a young adult talking late into the night with friends on beach. For a few years I lived walking distance from here, at the time of this pastel. I also lived on the Costa del Sol in Spain, very similar to California…but the Spanish allowed unfettered multi-storied buildings on the coast, destroying the beauty of it. While in California, the coastal commission, years ago when I was still a kid, passed a law that within a mile or two of the coast building couldn’t be higher than 2 stories. It really saved and kept open the magnificent California ocean views. This pastel would not have existed without them.

Michael Newberry, Idyllwild, 10/10/2020

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