Why “Lines of Force” and what does it mean?
Theme for Retrospective Exhibition.
Greetings! Now that we are just about ready to open our “Lines of Force – A Retrospective of the Artwork By the Late John Stermer” exhibition, I thought we might want to say a word or two (or many) about our theme.
So, to begin with, why “lines of force”? Because the theme points to how John Stermer composed his paintings; used gestural lines; contributed to his community.
That is a LOT of meaning in three words, if I may say so. So, perhaps we ought to discuss it some more.
As I see it, “lines of force” have both a tangible and intangible meanings.
Tangible Lines of Force: Lines & Edges.
What We See. So, to explain “lines of force” as it refers to the tangible, we are talking about what we see when we look at a painting. More specifically, when we look at a John Stermer drawing or painting, it is the way the lines and edges used together. They can be used in a structural manner to weave together the composition. That is they relate to each other in a horizontal and vertical manner much like the warp and weft of a weaving or a grid system. In addition, the lines lead your eye around the painting and keep the composition together.
Rhythm & Life. Similarly, some of the lines and edges can relate to each other in such a manner as to create a sort of rhythm or movement within the painting. They bring a sense of life or vibrancy to the composition.
Purposeful Use Of Line. So, when you look at a John Stermer painting, you often see lines throughout the painting. These lines are purposely drawn in or created by extending edges of shapes. And, John Stermer used lines in three ways: (1) to provide structure to his composition; (2) to lead the viewer’s eye around the paintings; and (3) to create a sense of movement or rhythm within the painting.
Back to this idea of “tangible lines of force”, the lines in the paintings by John Stermer have a purpose and meaning that we can see. However, the theme “lines of force” also allude to something we don’t see immediately but perhaps, feel; the intangible. These lines of force extend into and out of the canvas, so to speak.
Intangible Lines of Force: Into & Out Of The Picture.
Incoming Lines: Lineage and Training. Lines coming into the picture plane are the artist’s lineage and training. And lines leaving the picture plane are the artist’s link to community and other artists. Yes, this is metaphorical but, I think, illustrates the place an artist has to his or her time.
Also, I think it is worth remembering the artist’s lineage. In John Stermer’s case, he had formal training in his hometown of Elmira NY; at the Art Students League of NYC; and at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris, France. So, his teachers, mentors, and influencers could be likened to lines of force coming through him into the canvas.
Outgoing Lines: Community and Viewer. And, then, the lines of force that leave the canvas allude to the artist’s contributions and links to the community. In John Stermer’s case, he felt a need to give back to his community through such activities as teaching, organizing and volunteering.
Lest we forget, there is one more important “lines of force” that extends beyond the canvas. It is the line that extends to you! Yes, you, the viewer are part of the process. What you see and feel as you look at the artwork are part of the lines of force.
Lines of Force: About Connection.
To summarize all these lines coming and going, we are talking about “lines of force” being a theme about connections. And these connections are made within and without of the actual work of art.
A Special Thanks.
I would like to extend a special thank you to Ms. Paula Geisler of Silver City NM. She serves as curator of this exhibition. And, I interviewed Paula regarding the theme of “Lines of Force”. So, I may not quote her directly, but her ideas help to form this narrative.
The painting below is of Paula and her dog, Hog Pie, also known as Posolito.
Thank you Paula!