When something is singular, memorable or remarkable, then it can be said to be special.
In particular, the artist John Stermer felt that the painting Rose Theme II to have a special place in his development as a painter.
Introduction & Purpose.
Greetings! A few days ago, I was corresponding with family members about the John Stermer painting Rose Theme II. We agreed that it is a special painting. For example, the artist’s wife Lucianna Stermer, my Mom, recalled that the painting had earned an award in a juried show in Oklahoma several years ago.
And, we all agreed that the artist, my Dad, thought the painting was special too. So, I thought I’d write about this particular painting, Rose Theme II.
The purpose, then, of this essay is to share with you some insight about this special John Stermer painting.
Context: Fellow Artist’s and Daughter’s Point Of View.
For some context, I’d like to explain that I’m writing as a daughter of the artist.
Interestingly enough, as I look at the John Stermer painting Rose Theme II, I see it, almost for the first time. That is to say as an artist who is observing a fellow artist’s painting.
And, yet, I still look at the painting as a daughter and it brings back good memories.
So, it is my intention to share both observation and memory of the painting and the artist.
To begin with, Rose Theme II is one of the paintings that I remember as always being there. That is to say, it was part of my childhood home. It was part of the family collection of my Dad’s paintings and I would see it every day.
The Art Behind The Rose.
However, it wasn’t until an evening in my college years that I began to see the painting differently. To clarify, I began to understand the art behind what seemed a simple still life of roses in a glass.
You see, when I was in college, sometimes my Dad and I would have pleasant conversations by the fireplace. Usually, they were Sunday evenings; studies would be done and it was a time of tranquility. Discussion topics might include what I was studying, what was on the news, or any number of subjects.
And, sometimes, Dad would share with me his thoughts about art and artwork. On one such night, my Dad’s attention turned to the painting, Rose Theme II. It was hanging in the den as it always did. And, Dad started to talk about how special the rose was.
At this point, I want to share some history. My Dad, John Stermer, began the Rose Theme II painting in the 1950s. At the time, he was a student at The Art Student’s League in NYC.
In any case, I gather he had studying and dealing with the issues of composition for a while.
Perhaps, as way of explanation, we can imagine the art student concerning himself with the problem of how a picture is put together. What makes it “work”? How do we organize and arrange these things called “composition elements” in a painting?
You might see the artist struggling with several drawings and paintings, looking for a personal way to apply ideas and theories. And, then, something happens!
Paintings Are Like Weavings.
I don’t know if it was a sudden “AHA” moment, or a realization that he had been composing all along. But, I do recall how Dad explained composition. He said it was like a tapestry; a weaving. That is to say there is a warp and a weft; parallel lines moving vertically and horizontally. A tapestry must have a warp and weft to be strong and hold together.
Compositional elements, then, are the warp and weft of a painting; the scaffolding that helps the parts work together and create a whole.
Now, shall we take this one step further? Dad realized and understood how to use line and shape to create is own type of warp and weft or scaffolding. He uses a combination of linking lines and edges together or breaking them apart to create the scaffolding and rhythm of the painting.
Seeing Composition (Design) Changes Everything!
Isn’t this fun? When my Dad explained his painting to me, it was like an entire new visual world! Composition was exciting!
I would like to say that this particular composition idea was not unique or developed by my Dad. Rather, what I am trying to say is that while painting Rose Theme II, Dad got it! That is, he understood how to use design principles in his own way. He understood at a visceral or core level, the strength of this composition concept.
And, That’s Why Its Special.
As I recall, Dad said the realization that came while painting Rose Theme II changed his painting. Forever. I think that is pretty special!