The Black Line Tells the Story

And Adding Dimension To The Flat Acrylic Colors

What I am doing in this last painting in the series, not the last of the series, but the last painting in the series is reaching more for the Byzantine sense of space. That’s a shallow space that’s really has some shadows to it and some un-shadows to it. But I’m making my shadows in some areas more deliberate than they would have in Byzantium. Byzantium was an ancient Greek city in classical antiquity that became known as Constantinople in late antiquity and Istanbul today.

finished acrylic painting - Dick Crispo

If you go to Ravenna, south of Venice, you will see the absolutely stunning mosaics that take on a life of their own and a space that had not existed before in the history of art. It’s a space with a very shallow theater of action. But at the same time, an active space.

For these paintings I am using flat liquid acrylics and now I’m adding the shadows in some places and not in others. I’ve been trying to get this, but not as exaggerated as it is in this piece. This piece is really different because there’s parts of it that really get a three dimensional kind of feeling to it, mixing it with the flat color. That strange space opens up another dimension.

02 acrylic painting by Dick Crispo

It’s a dimension of two different spaces and some decorative elements are in there to play on the flatness. But the black line tells the story of the drawing because the drawing is still what’s important to me. 

It’s the idea of painting the drawing which sets up a different space for me. The space becomes different than the space that was in the original drawing. I set up another drawing inside the narrow theater of action. The possibility of entering this painting becomes different than the other ones in the series. The one before this started to get towards this, but this painting is more like it.

03 acrylic painting by Dick Crispo

What’s the next one going to look like? I have no idea. But I feel like I’m moving towards something and it’s happening in this one, combining several different ways of working. The black line is the story that tells the story. The black line is the narrative part as well as the part of the design. This is something that I want to have happen that is different.

That is that different space. It’s also a space that I feel comfortable working in and challenged by. This is because in each painting of mine, I have to give myself a challenge. This challenge is working with this different space and putting in the chiaroscuro, which is the art of going from light to dark. I add some chiaroscuro inside the flatness of the Byzantine and the stained glass. In my painting, the black representing the lead in the stained glass. 

05 acrylic painting by Dick Crispo

As as we keep looking at this, we see a lot of this. Some colors that are familiar to the other ones, but the colors are working differently this time because of the chiaroscuro in this, in the red and then in the orange ocher and up in the face. To keep it flat and yet have some of that, it’s like telling a story backwards and then allowing it to come to the front of the story. 

There is a story in all of these. I just don’t know what the ending is. I have a beginning, a middle and an end in these paintings, but I never know where they’re going to end up.


gold face watercolor painting
A watercolor painting using paints.

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