Painting and the Magic of Mood
The are many types of paintings in the world, but I tend to divide them into two groups - those that have mood and those that don't. Sorting out works like that is not everyone's cup of tea, and it's not right or wrong, it's just how I look at things. In fact, there are paintings with mood that I don't particularly fancy, but they still project mood to the viewer.
There is a magic in a moody painting that draws us in. Mood doesn't just mean dramatic, we can be attracted by art that is very calming, it might just be the thing we need to calm a room and those in the room! I once sold a painting of clouds to a lawyer who told me it was going to hang in his office so he could turn to it in times of stress and find peace of mind. The power of art can be greatly underestimated in our lives and paintings with the right mood can be beneficial to our state of mind. They can provide a great escape.
Often, the simplest paintings project the most mood, because detail can distract from it. A great exponent of this was Clarice Beckett, who is one of my favourite painters. Beckett was a plein air painter by necessity and she capture the spirit and atmosphere of Melbourne with her works. Confined to working out of doors and usually only able to paint either early in the morning or dusk, Beckett produced a lot of misty, moody painting that reflected the time of day when she worked. The painting I have chosen as an example of her work is one of St Kilda Road at the end of the day. Anyone who has travelled on this road at the end of the day will recognise the mood she has captured. The painting is devoid of minute detail and there is just enough information to convey the subject and mood. Painting in this minimal way is an art form in itself because the natural inclination of artists, is to paint everything. Art is about interpretation, not about reproducing what is there – photographs can do that much better than we can. The artist that is free from the shackles of having to paint what is there is free indeed.
Not all paintings have mood and indeed they don’t have to, but they are the ones that draw people to them. A good moody painting will make viewers stop in their tracks and enter the scene before them – they will complete the story in their imagination. You won’t see any of Clarice Beckett’s paintings at Artworx but you will see some great moody works. The story of her life and work is fascinating and well worth looking up – it’s inspirational!
Photo – Evening St Kilda Road, Clarice Beckett circ 1930
Art Gallery of NSW