Autumn Moon

Autumn Moon

Monday, September 10, 2007

My work is inspired by the natural world. Its beauty and its cruelty. Its hostility and its hospitality. Its paradoxes and its contrasts. When looking at nature, one can't help but see its destruction at the hands of humans. It is virtually impossible to find unspoiled nature. Our planet's ecological balance has been severely compromised, and phenomena such as global warming and the deterioration of the ozone layer affect every inch of the planet. I feel strongly that each of us must use the tools at our disposal to preserve and restore the natural world. As an artist, I employ visual language to address these issues with the goal of awakening interest and inspiring my audience to action. To learn more about each series' subject in order to better understand and communicate its essence. Those who cannot be reached by depressing news about the dire state of our world may be reached by images of its beauty (Ansel Adams successfully showed this) and the threat imposed on it. Art has the power to make one see things in a new light. It allows us to develop a love for places and things that we would otherwise not have noticed, or thought of as ugly or boring. It helps us discover the beauty of the ocean floor, the dirt or alluvial mud that is bog, the bark of a tree.
Rather than re-creating a landscape on a canvas, I aim to express its essence. Obviously, no single work can hope to distill the complex spirit of a landscape, much less the infinitely sophisticated ecology that sustains it. So, in order to capture this richness, I work on a large number of paintings concurrently. This allows me to transport strong elements and effective techniques from one piece to the next. Each multi-layered rendering shares some details with the other works in the series. The overlap of elements enriches each individual expression and deepens the cohesion within the series. Ultimately, each piece captures some fragment of the landscape's power until the larger body of work coalesces to express its deepest essence.

"The job of the Artist is always deepen the mystery."

Art is about communicating, first of all, with self and later the listener, the viewer. It is about communicating through emotions in one form or another, reaching out and if successful, connecting with and resonating with-in the viewer. I want to create this sort of communication by presenting paintings that are open ended, open to the viewers entering, engagement and imagination. I am after a presence that transcends whatever illusion suggests itself, a presence that constitutes the expression of the painting. What the viewer sees', reads, connects with, perhaps recognizes, his or her own meaning, depends on that persons' experiences. There is a certain amount of illusion of physical space and form, which serves as metaphor for what intriques me most- exploration of the landscape, the environment, it's complexities, it's enigma. I paint " Not the thing, but the effect it produces." to quote the french writer Mallarme. What this "effect" means to me is the emotional response to a place, an event, a person; Of course this occurs from whatever is retained with-in me, from experience, observation, perception and/or impression. We are part of nature physically and/or spiritually. I make reference to physical nature as metaphor for alluding to the psychologically complex and mysterious landscape of the human condition and experience, it's ambiguities, its' ambivilences- in essence, nature as reflection of the inner self. Most of my imagery is suggestive of some sort of aquatic environment, such as the pond ( Thoreau sees' it as the eye of the landscape.), bog, rivers' edge, a dwelling place for all sorts of life forms, where life can emerge and continue in ever repeating cycles of birth, growth, death, decay and rebirth. The element of water, certain plant forms, mud/alluvial soil, have throughout the ages held highly important symbolic significance. To mention just a few: Water, all-powerful symbol of energy and life itself, of time and emotion. The lotus stands for peace and perfection, for spiritual unfolding, rebirth, for grace, also for past, present and future, as the same plant bears buds, flowers and seeds at the same time. What I call "creative mud" carries the symbol for fertility and potential. Latley I have been thinking alot about stone, the womb and tree as well; Stone, symbol of the eternal, of immortality, also static life, as opposed to Tree, dynamic life and the wombs symbiotic relation to the forces of nature and time.

Monday, September 3, 2007

I am influenced both by an intense immersion in nature and a close involvement in the process of people's lives. Patterns fascinate me, in growing things and in our lives, the way we address similar issues over and over, but differently as events unfold; The way I see it in the continual cycle of living things, and in the way for us humans it is a reason to live and yet is such a challenge. I infuse these fascinations into my abstract oil paintings as I build/subtract layer upon layer, and pattern over pattern.
I have always been drawn to printmaking; the intriguing shift that happens when pigment is transferred from one object to another. From an early obsession with classic etching and lithography, I developed an interest in the freedom and serendipity of monotype. Over the years as a monotype artist and teacher I found myself wanting to create artwork which did not have to be shown under glass and allowed development of intense surface texture. I began creating images using oil paint on prepared paper using monotype techniques without the press. The work I have come up with is a continuing adventure as I stretch the techniques that have interested me for years. Today I divide my time between my painting studio and teaching.
To create the oil paintings, I start by gessoeing heavy rag paper on both sides. Then I dry it in blotters, creating a very flat surface which will take a lot of abuse. Beginning with an under painting of a fairly brilliant color, I build textures and colors slowly, using both subtractive and additive processes. I apply paint with stencils (lace, Japanese papers, found objects), stamps (hand-cut linoleum blocks and commercially made patterns) and create textures by applying paint both with a brush and with brayers. Of course, being oil paint, each layer must dry several days before I can work on the piece again so I tend to have many pieces going on in the studio at one time. As in traditional monoprint, what is revealed in the subtractive process often becomes the most exciting and unique aspect of the piece. Depending on the piece I might choose to frame it under glass or attach it to a wood panel and show it unframed. Larger paintings I work directly on the wood panel, building it up in the same layers and varnishing the finished painting.
When the paintings are done I take time to consider what they have revealed to me. This is how the titles come about, and I feel they are very important. Sometimes it could be a partially seen landscape at a particular time of day (but of course the next time you look at it, it is something else). Sometimes it is more of a remembered emotion or an odd juxtaposition of reactions-whatever the human moment I hope the viewer will have a chance to feel as though they are part of what happens in the interpretation of the piece-it will become part of their memory as well as mine...