Laughter in the Rain, Sunrise over water - themes that remain some of mankind's most dreamed of subjects... And Chopin's Nocturne in D Flat is the quintessential nocturne. It is dreamy but restless, just like the painting below. These three paintings show what can be achieved with a predominantly grey palette. These paintings show grey at its most lyrical and evocative.
nocturne in d Flat
This work is 1.7m by 1.4m and painted in oils on linen. The painter James Whistler painted several "nocturnes" and like this one they were great in tone to suggest nocturnal themes. But this painting also suggests a nocturne as a musical composition, and more specifically Chopin's Nocturne in D Flat op 27 no 2. I have played and recorded this work at the piano, and it features in my novel, Love and The Art of Painting. The D Flat key of the nocturne is consistent with the colour scheme of this work. More importantly most of the work is placid and tranquil, but this tranquility is interrupted by turmoil in the lower centre of the painting. That is consistent with Chopin's great musical composition which begins smoothly and calmly but wanders through a field of fiery emotions...
laughter in the rain
Oil on linen 1.8m by 0.9m 2015
by Ian Barton Stewart
A beautiful painting showing how the colour grey can represent a remarkable poeticism and diversity. The title is drawn from Claude Debussy's piano work of the same name, which I have played and admired for many years. If I had to choose a particular passage in Debussy's work that mirrors this work, it would be the middle section beginning in the key of G Major, which I think is one of the most remarkable passages of music ever composed. Here, the rain is suggested by the verticality of brush strokes, while laughter is evident in the patches of of white and dark grey in the lower half of the painting. But of course, each viewer sees a work himself, and not necessarily how others see it. The photo of course does not do the painting justice, so you will have to imagine what it looks like in real life and size, for it is a large and breathtaking painting, and the modulations of grey, white and darker hues form a single unified conception in the painting, that a photograph simply cannot capture...
Sunrise over water
Oil on linen 1.7m by 1.4m by Ian Barton Stewart
This painting shows the sun commencing its arc across the sky, bringing forth blazing light and warmth on which nearly all life on Earth depends. The work has something of an old master quality about it, and the sun rises over a seascape of mystery. If I think of analogues in the realm of music I think of Claude Debussy's Suite Bergamasque, Richard Strauss's Sunrise from Thus Spake Zarathustra, and maybe even Chopin's Barcarolle. Of course I did not paint this work to emulate these composer's works. Nor did I paint it to emulate Manet's Sunrise painting that heralded Impressionism as a style in the history of art. This painting can be seen as influenced by all of these works and themes, but you will not find another painting like it anywhere (unless someone has copied this painting). This painting reminds me of one of my favourite artists, JMW Turner, with its washes of colour over moody water, but also with a warmth that makes the painting appear illuminated from behind.