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Warm Afternoon by Guy Rose
Art Appreciation: A Study in Relaxation
In Warm Afternoon, Guy Rose paints a scene of nature on a warm, sunny day. He paints with an analogous color choice an impression of what a restful, peaceful afternoon is like and has a pretty woman in the center, as the focal point, enjoying it. His choice of using similar colors, arranging the balance of his painting with the woman as the focal point, and his use of an impressionistic painting style all help to stress the painting's meaning ~ that life and nature should be savored with rest and reflection.
The painting in itself deserves quiet reflection. Although Guy Rose has given just an "impression" of a warm afternoon, the indistinctness of the brush strokes are calming, and what he has chosen to paint is soothing and pretty. If the picture was painted with crystal-clear distinctness, the welcoming sense of nature would diminish, because the fuzziness seems to add warmth. Also, the lack of sharp brush strokes allows the eyes to rest more easily as they study to define the picture.
Just as the indistinctness of the brush strokes invites the eye, so does Rose's choice to use an analogous color scheme. The majority of the painting is in various shades of green and yellow, but the other colors that are there are not jarring. The lady herself is muted and sits in the shade. She is not made of bright and vibrant colors, so she seems a natural part of the whole scene ~ her coloring is like that of the tree bark behind her. Only her hair has a sunlit glow from behind, and the beautiful yellow-green leaves that crown around her body from the trees behind seem to carry the happy sun around. Having the bright yellowish leaves above and behind her makes the eye seem to look forward, as if the sun above and ahead is what is bringing the peaceful happiness to the scene.
While the woman is the focal point, the other subject matter of the painting is the abundance of life that is flourishing around her. Rose has painted those things necessary for life ~ water and sun ~ and the vibrant life of nature. The golden leaves on the trees behind the woman are bright and happy, and one tree seems to bow down to the sun and water behind it with the sunny leaves almost touching the ground below. Everywhere there is a bright yellow spot of leaves it seems the sun is leaving a happy mark upon the ground.
The water behind the trees, although making up the darker portion of the painting, lends stability and assurance. The two trees on the sides of the painting are wider and older, and add maturity to the scene, while the two trees directly behind the woman are young, and make up the brightest and lightest part of the picture. While the woman rests in the shade of the picture, the circular-ovalness of the trees and grass around her make her the focal point, even though she is a muted color. Because she is the focal point, and although seems a natural part of nature, she is not swallowed by it, and Rose makes us see her in a restful contemplation. She does not rush and she is not busy. She just sits and reflects and enjoys the coolness of the shade while she is surrounded by such beauty.
Having the woman as the focal point enhances the meaning of the picture because Rose shows her doing what he hopes the people who see this painting will then do. There is so much beauty in nature and life that should be enjoyed and savored rather than rushed through and ignored. The trees and plants do not rush away with business from the sun and water, but people seem to have the knack of cramming their lives full and leave no time for reflection or enjoyment. Here, Rose shows nature living as it always does ~ steadily and slowly with the two older trees, and happily and vibrantly with the two young trees. But while the painting is full of life, light, and health, there is a decided lack of rushing. Rose has not painted the woman trying to finish or do or manage anything. By painting as a focal point a woman who isn't doing anything, Rose has emphasized the peacefulness and happiness available from life. The woman just sits and enjoys the warm afternoon. The nature around her provides for her health and happiness with its beauty.
The choice of using similar colors and lots of greens add to the role nature plays, like nature is the symbol for life. The sunniness of the leaves hit by the sun (which seems to be far ahead, and directly centered above) show in their brightness, in the lime-green and yellows that contrast to the darker lake behind them. The greens of the leaves that surround the woman are not muddied by too-dark colors, but seem warm and hearty. Where the sun still rests on the ground between the trees, there are spots of red, which add warmth to the picture. In the shaded areas, particularly in front of the tree where the woman sits, the bits of blue blend easily with the green, and make the darker greens of the picture seem light, cool, and restful compared to all the yellow-greens of the sunlit areas. The colors of the grass, plants, and leaves are all a healthy green, and the plants and leaves behind seems an assurance that nature will continue and so the plants in the sun seem to wallow in their own healthiness, and in the nourishment provided for them. There is no death and no hostility painted in. The green colors emphasize nature's healthiness.
The woman, although muted in color, shares in this vibrant liveliness. Her skin is a translucent white and her cheek is a healthy pink. Her clothes and colors are not busy, just simple whites and grays with highlights of blues and faint pinks. The colors mix well with all the bright lime-greens of the leaves and the healthy, darker greens of the plants around her. The colors fit, and so she looks comfortable as she rests. The eyes can also rest comfortably on her smooth white face and simple clothes, and note how the sun touches the edges of her hair, as though Rose is reminding that the sun and life are abundant, and offer light and life to all.
Rose chose to paint the beauty and health of rest, and to do this, he chose to paint with indistinct brush strokes which invite the eye to rest and reflection. By choosing an analogous color scheme, Rose has enhanced the message he sends with his painting. The greens of nature which inhabit his painting add to the healhiness of the human body's need for rest and reflection, just as the sun in nature has made the rest enjoyable. The choice of a nature scene, rather than city life, shows life and health abundantly. The woman doesn't sit on a chair, but on a fallen-over tree, so there are no references to city life. There is only a lively, vibrant nature which surrounds the focal point, which is the woman as she rests to enjoy the warm afternoon, just as Rose would have his viewers choose to slow down and enjoy life amidst such scenes as the one he has presented.