Midnight Rose

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Spring 1999
"Sofa paintings"

Midnight Rose was a triptych -a painting or carving consisting of three panels. The one shown on this page was the third panel. The rose design stretched from one panel to the next as if each panel was a window on a wall from which these giant roses could be seen. However, the size of the panels fluctuated from left to right. The panel on the left was 2 x 4 ft. (60.9 x 121.9cm), the middle panel was 3 ft. by 4 ft. (91.4cm x 121.9cm), and the panel on the right (the one shown below) was 4 x 4 ft. (121.9 x 121.9cm).


Midnight Rose. 1994, 1999. Triptych oil painting on frameless canvas-covered panels, 9 ft. x 4 ft. x 4 in. (3.04m x 1.22m x 1.57cm); Panel shown is 4 ft. x 4 ft. x 4 in. (1.22m x 1.22m x 1.57cm).

The panel forms were constructed of 3/8" (.95cm) plywood over a 4" (10.16cm) high wooden frame. They were then covered in canvas, primed heavily, and the composition -which extended right over the sides, was rendered in Artist's oils. When the painting was done it was hung with a 4" (10.61cm) spacing between panels. Because of the art carries over the sides, the painting looked interesting from any angle -and was surprisingly lively.

I designed this piece for one of my interior design jobs in 1994. I was doing a dining room which consisted of a black lacquer dining set with cream silk backings and needed a painting in the same colors that would reflect nicely on a glass tabletop. The result was "Midnight Rose". Once I achieved a balanced composition, doing the painting was routine. I modeled the flowers in tones of gray, and then I added glazes of color on the petals. The glazes were very beautiful and delicate, adding a shimmering quality as light changed from daytime natural to night-time illumination. Unfortunately, I never took good quality photographs of the painting to show you. The image you see here was taken only to study the work in progress.

Flowers are some of the most beautify things in creation and they give me immense pleasure. But the one thing this rose composition did not have, was thorns. I don't like thorns and painting allows me to create what I desire most: roses without thorns. The odd thing about it is that nobody noticed. This is perhaps because we tend to imagine things in an idealized form by constructing only what gives us pleasure in our minds. I'm am very conscious of this human trait but I like to idealize certain things too, like gorgeous white roses with no thorns.

The piece was so successful that I did a second version for a fundraising exhibition in 1999 at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio. The image shown above is from that version. It sold on opening day. I did a few more of these "sofa paintings", like the painting 'It rained Kool-Aid' (also shown on the Painting page), but soon got bored with the concept. The reason I called them sofa paintings was because this was the kind of art that invariably ended up on the wall right above the sofa.

While I was able to do these paintings for private clients, I could not find a local gallery that would carry them. They were considered "too commercial" by gallery owners who failed to see the irony of this statement, and completely overlooked the fact that they sold well outside galleries! Unfortunately, I can't say the same about Cleveland galleries attracting buyers, which invariably went out of business with predictable regularity during the eighties and nineties.

If there is something to be learned from "sofa paintings" is that people loved them for their beauty and simplicity. Art is about bringing out the beauty in things. Same as with comfort food -which is simple and uncomplicated, we find certain images very satisfying and comforting. Presently (this is a 2020 update) I'm thinking of doing a smaller series of idealized flower paintings for reproduction to sell online once I set up a store. The only difference from the paintings I did in the late nineties to the ones I'm planning on doing, is that now I can paint them even better.

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