Wheels and Windmills

Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel
Like a snowball down a mountain, or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that's turning running rings around the moon
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind!

–from The Windmills of Your Mind, Music by Michel Legrand, Lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman

First recorded by Noel Harrison for the 1968 movie, The Thomas Crown Affair, it's Dusty Springfield's recording from the following year that everybody thinks of when this song comes to mind. It's a silly song, really. The melody and musical arrangements are so dreamy they never quite gel. The lyrics are too cute by half; almost gimmicky with their lists of rhyming rondels. And yet...Dusty's voice is so spot-on-otherworldly that the cheezy words and music add up to something almost transcendent. It sends tingles down the spine.

I didn't start out painting on round canvases with Dusty Springfield in mind. However, it wasn't long after I began using circular imagery that I thought of this song. The Thomas Crown Affair is a favorite movie of mine, and a milestone in fashion history. Much has been written about how stylish it was and how influential it has been. I've always thought of Steve McQueen's Thomas Crown as the ultimate fantasy collector of my work.

Beneath the stylish veneer, though, Windmills touches on grand themes like the passing of time and lost love. As an artist, what I admire most is the strange blend of reverie and modishness. I would like to think I can find a way to tap into some serious subjects in my work without sacrificing visual verve and a feeling for the style of the day. My latest group of paintings correspond to the seasons of the year, but there are seasons in our lives, too. We anticipate them and pass through them, we look back on and remember them. Like Windmills, I date from 1968, which may be why the style of this particular song rings my bell. The wheels-within-wheels imagery pricks my heart because of where it originates, too.

The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.
— Ezekiel 1:16
Fall, Acrylic on round canvas, 48 inch diatmeter, 2017

Fall, Acrylic on round canvas, 48 inch diatmeter, 2017

Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968

Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968