I just finished my latest painting, and it’s time to begin another (or two). I had an idea for a composition while dropping off to sleep the other night, of a very complex, rich design with many objects, richly colored. It was very appealing. Of course, since I was half-asleep, it lacked detail and reality! In my studio today, I began working with this idea. I began with a backdrop. I pinned up some black satin fabric on the wall. I thought that the complex folds and play of light would add richness.I spent a lot of time draping the fabric and studying the shapes it made. I found a tray for the tabletop that I liked. Now I had a stage setting, but no actors! I found myself feeling stuck. I am much more used to starting with an object I like, and then composing around it. Hunting for things to put in my set-up at that point felt awkward. My real problem is that a general idea of ‘richness and complexity’ is too vague a starting place for a composition. Complexity has to make sense and begin with small components. Richness will be the result of the colors of the objects I choose and a sensitivity to subtleties of value. Maybe a place to begin is to find many objects in warm, rich colors. Then, I can move them around and create that feeling of complexity I want.