Paintings That Celebrate the `World in a Grain of Sand'

Article excerpt

A BEAM of light illumines a strange green forest. At once familiar and bizarre, this "other world" lies hidden in the grass. It is all lush green suffused with golden light. The painting, "Annunciation" by Ron Trujillo, is more realistic than a photograph, because hidden within the perfection of detail is the very feeling of grass growing.

The painting, like so many of Mr. Trujillo's, reminds the viewer of a detail from an Old Master landscape. The rich color could only have been achieved by many layers of thin transparent paint, followed by numerous layers of glaze.

"You don't get that glow by just laying down pigment," the artist says. In fact, Trujillo routinely uses 50 to 60 layers of glaze to bring out those riches of color.

He works from slides and photographs, selecting one or two images from 70 or 80 slides taken on his walks around his backyard or the nearby Denver parks.

He has modified several cheap cameras, adjusting the focal length of the lens to accommodate the microcosm he locates at mouse-eye level. On any given day he will have two cameras with him, will plop them down in the grass near a likely subject, and will shoot.

"As I started to work with these ideas of landscape," he said in a recent conversation in his studio, "I realized that usually landscape is pictured from a very human perspective. I wanted to do something different."

He chose these extremely low angles, which offered him a slightly distorted macroview with a limited focus.

Looking at Trujillo's paintings, we gaze up at blades of grass or weeds. …