#12 “Rapunzel”

Painting by Rebecca Ryan

Themes of control and resiliency are central to the Rapunzel fairy tale and are dominant in the associated painting as well.

I am not an illustrator and so am not really able to generate representative images very successfully. Process is the essence of my technique. This painting is the result of an extended process that started with a vague idea of a head, a tower, and a cascading river of hair.

Color is always where I begin. The dominant starting point for color was a vivid swirling ocean of magenta with red and purple accents and overtones. On top of that came bright orange triangles and polygons that originally suggested a ladder to me. The process continued with repeated lifting of colors, adding in new ones, and revealing the underlying whites.

Form emerges from the colors for me. I felt a profile of a head dominated the paper. It remains only partially discernible. You may be able to recognize a “neck” in the lower left hand quadrant (pink and white diagonals stacked on top of each other like vertebrae). The orange “steps” wrap up and around this form, like a spiral staircase.

The central blue cascading form moves both up and down diagonally across the paper. I thought of this as hair falling from the tower, but it is obviously very water-like as well. If hair is symbolic of power, certainly water can be as well, with it s ability to shape and erode even the hardest rock.

Complementary colors (blue, and orange, purple and yellow, black and white, etc.) are polarities, with the balance point somewhere in between: “both and”, not “either or”. Additionally, the colors themselves have a translucent almost iridescent quality, while the black accents are dense and non-reflective, another complementary aspect.

All four elements (earth, air, fire and water) emerge through the combination of color and form. Together they create something greater, a kind of alchemy so to speak.

Movement dominates the painting. It’s almost a frenetic kind of movement, suggesting an irrepressible force of nature, and a total lack of static permanence. Nothing remains the same. The Life Force dominates, always moving, always morphing into whatever it is to become next. IMPOSSIBLE to control but able to renew us if we can only trust and surrender to it.