Pivotal Event #10 Inspired by Place
In my early days of painting I thought that I would become a cool, hard-edged abstract painter. Maybe you can picture what I had in mind? Sort of contemporary chic and edgy, wearing a lot of black, so cool as to be almost untouchable, and creating art that was ahead of its time in its rawness. Okay, it was a fantasy, but it was my idea of the direction in which I planned to steer my career. After the initial year or two of experimental techniques a funny thing happened. Increasingly what kept on coming out of my brushes were soft atmospheric landscape-type scenes. What was going on? I considered “landscape” to be the antithesis of what I set out to paint and yet the paintings were becoming increasingly more “landscape-like”. It didn’t make sense.
Actually, the paintings were fine, but my bias was a problem. The painting that made me face my “I-don’t-paint-landscapes” bias head on was Quarry Series 01 (above). It was an effortless painting to create and it was breathtaking and beautiful and lovely to me when complete, but it was anything but cool or edgy. Even as viewers would comment on its beauty, I kept on trying to call it out, “But isn’t it too much of a landscape?” There was a good lesson here for me to learn. Inside an artist (inside everyone, really) there is a creator and there is an observer. The creator goes “all-in” while creating. The observer stands to one side to notice overarching themes, technical considerations, and so on. But part of the observer’s role is to stay to one side and not get in the way of the creator. The observer part of me had to let go of its preconceived ideas of what type of work it wanted in order for my creator part to create. I’ve since learned that it’s fine for me to admire and enjoy cool, hard-edged abstract art, but I now go ahead and paint the way I paint without arbitrarily trying to change it. I try to always follow my creator part and let my observer innocently watch what comes off my brush. In fact, I am now willing to publicly admit here in this newsletter that despite my best intentions…my paintings have indeed become atmospheric landscapes offering up translations of memories, bridges, mountains, etc and are deeply inspired by place.
Photo above: Quarry Series 01 – 2012 – At the time, it was one of the largest (66″ x 77″) paintings I had created. I loved having to use a stepladder and my whole arm to make brushstrokes, all the while dancing back and forth to paint it.