Going deeper into these paintings means understanding the ways of being & seeing I am entering through them. I am learning the rules & qualities of Red.
Where the white paintings are 100% about White and its interrelationships with the White Birch ground, the red paintings are a lot less concerned with purity. Indigo, gold, pinkie-pink, umber, sienna, bronze: YES! The Red I am after is a quality of union that delights in bringing together many different strands. Transparent, opaque, light, dark, smooth, rough: welcome. The White paintings are smooth snow over ice, each with the sense of a perfectly unified field, devoid of individual, outstanding features. The Red paintings are communities of individual parts. White is Spirit, Red is Soul.
The Red paintings, like the White, maintain vital relationships with ground. Whenever the Red Oak space at the core of a panel gets too covered up, I can feel something closing inside my own body, as well as in the body of the painting. For a redder Red, I might have begun by staining the wood with some water-based pigment, but I know there is something important about some palpable presence of the wood as it is.
Red wants shadow, as well as luminosity; heavy, as well as bright. Red is interested in Fullness; White is interested in Emptiness. Prayer flags flap noisily all along both edges of the Red paintings. Deep snow breathes quietly from the center of the White paintings. All is well, exactly as it is.
Julie Püttgen is an artist, expressive arts therapist, and meditation teacher.