Fluid Dynamics of a G-clef

TM8235 Fluid Dynamics of a G-Clef 36×36 oil on panel

This painting began life with the sweeping gesture of a G-clef in dark blues and greens. Of course at first I didn’t recognize it as such, but after developing the forms I began to see nothing but a G-clef. Too obvious. After much thought, I gave up, took the painting off the easel, and leaned it against the wall – on its side. Now it was a G-clef on its side, but also a breaking wave.  I resumed work on the painting but in its new orientation. I liked it, but it was still too simple – it didn’t say enough. So it sat in the studio for several weeks until I realized the curving forms needed to be read against something more definitive, more linear. Happening on a diagram from fluid dynamics, I realized that it was the merging of the clef with the wave, a sort of musical fluid dynamics, that was the real subject of the painting. I quickly painted in the graph of lines using a very dark, muted cadmium red. Now the wave, which is continuous, is held by the length of its lines, or measurement. Words from both disciplines. The words were so elegant I had to use them in a poem, hence the writing of the poem below.


The gesture is a G-clef,

Upright, full of speed

And strength –

So strong

It compels all sound

Until I lay it

On its side –

Let it rest, let it swim

Into a wave, this

Fold of fluid dynamics

Turning to rhythm’s count

Sum of muse and music –

Breaking in measured lines

And lengths instead.


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