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Visual Valium, Part 1

Believe it or not, I created this piece ("Not a Holiday Inn Landscape," 36 x 48) immediately after finishing the "Psycho" painting and the New Orleans night scene. Will the real Shelby Marzoni please stand up! Seriously!

Actually, all of these pieces were created by Shelby Marzoni in various moods, for various purposes.

This painting is the first in a deliberate descent down a rabbit hole that I call "Visual Valium."

Visual Valium is a challenge I created for myself following an interview with someone who, after carefully poring over my portfolio, told me apologetically that he couldn't show most of my art because it's too "dark in tone" and apt to "freak people out" or make them depressed.

I had never thought of my work this way before. On one hand, I took this as a backhanded compliment, because I admittedly like to stir up emotional responses with my art. On the other hand, after looking over my body of work, I was confronted with the fact that it IS predominantly dark and DOES have a dramatic element that COULD upset people who are very sensitive.

So I decided to create a challenge for myself: to create a series of landscapes that would create...gulp...happy moods, relaxation, and (ugh) serenity. In order to do this, I decided that rather than accentuating the drama and, yes, ugliness of places and people, I would whitewash the drama and make things pretty. (Yes. I know. I used the "p" word.)

The first rule I established for myself was no black. There was no black used in this painting, which for me, is about as unusual as a Ben Folds song without piano accompaniment. Then, I set about to change up my whole approach to color.

Yesterday, as I slapped on the underpainting with my bad ass 4 inch brush, my first reaction was revulsion. "Surely, this will end up in a Motel 6 somewhere in North Platte, Nebraska," thought I.

But I kept going. The pinkish tint to the foreground made me giggle. As I applied a rosy wash to the haze over the mountains, I thought, "Now it's just about ready for the gynecologist's waiting room!"

Once I got the trees in and their reflection in the lake, I stepped way back for a squint and a gaze. What I saw made me happy. This landscape showed a place where I would like to go. A peaceful place.

I proved to myself that I can create tranquil scenes by following a different set of rules than I usually follow and still remain true to my style. I'm looking forward to the next steps in this adventure!

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