This work is composed primarily of tessera from one painting that was chopped into pieces and reconfigured into an entirely new image, but it is nevertheless a reflection of the original work. Tessera from other paintings have been added, and like bits of memories that we call on to help us when telling a story, the new bits add depth and interest to the original. So too do the traumas, and joys and grief and love that we experience add color and texture to our memories.
While working on this piece, it was struck by how this image is like my interior vision of myself. I always seem to be stitching together a new version of myself to present to the outside world. Whatever it is I piece together might look solid and cohesive, but is in fact cobbled together with bits and pieces that have washed up on the shore of my life. I would suppose that most people find this to be true. But then again, maybe not. Maybe it is just that I have the time to mull over all this existential dreck while cutting up old canvases.
EARLY MORNING LIGHT
This image comes from memories of trips that my family used to make on the weekends. We would all pile into the car and head off to the Blue Ridge Mountains for the day. Sometimes it was to pick peaches, sometimes to visit civil war sites, and sometimes just to explore the beautiful region. We always started really early and I recall that the light made everything sort of silvery. It was as if there were a blanket of mist covering everything.
Anyway … in those days there was nothing like the build up of housing that we see today in that region. Everything was really pretty rural and hardscrabble. The roads were not so wide, and the traffic was pretty sparse. The farms along our route were sort of rough and a step away from falling down. There might have been the occasional single pump gas station, or old general store with a wooden front porch. But remember, I am old enough that this would have been at a time when recovery from WWII meant that a lot of men had …BOUGHT THE FARM… a term that means that when the government paid death benefits to the family of a servicemen lost in war, it quite often meant that the family of the deceased could pay off any outstanding mortgage … in effect they could buy the farm. But that also meant that most often there was no longer a young man to work the farm. Hence the general aura of disrepair that prevailed.
However, the effect of that early morning light, and the misty quality of those mornings caused even the most derelict of rundown farmhouses to appear adorned in glory. I have seen the same effect when traveling through hilly terrain during the early morning anywhere the seasonal change from hot days to cool nights causes this glorious morning light. Every body raves about a beautiful sunrise, but this is a whole different thing. This is about the sky giving a benediction to the earth.
Here the effect of the pearly morning light was achieved by painting over a darker night sky and leaving the darkness to grip the morning light at the edges, just as it fades from view. I like the tension that this achieves. I also drew into the wet paint to give the details a delicate feel, in keeping with the lightness of the air. In the end this work proved to be a very delicate, but captivating image.
HOME FROM THE FARM
Lately, I have found that i really enjoy the process of creating landscapes entirely from memory. After years of painting from reference photos, it is exciting to manipulate reality to fit how the memory looks in my minds eye.
These landscapes are my most recent, and represent three entirely different places in entirely different times, and yet they live concurrently in my memory bank of images. By looking at them next to each other it is evident that I like to simplify and rub off the rough edges and keep only certain parts of a memory. I would suppose that everyone does much the same thing, but in my case it is part of the design process.
The process of designing and creating these landscapes means that certain elements take precedence and come into prominence as the work takes shape. In most cases I am unaware until well into the process what features will become key. Afterwards I always know when it is right, because it fits the memory and feels complete, even if parts have had to be eliminated.
It is a challenge to make these memories come alive, and to be able to share them with others in such a complete way, is very satisfying. Enjoy!
LITTLE CAT FEET
First up on the news front, I want you all to know that sculptor, and fellow artist Ashby Carlisle and I are collaborating on a show of new work to be hung at the Avon Library next June. We discovered earlier this year that our work really resonates when viewed side by side. We are really excited to be presenting our work in this context.
I will keep you posted on dates for our opening reception. Meanwhile if you get a chance, you can check out her website www.ashbycarlisle.com
I also finished another of my precarious landscapes. This one is about the fog of the future, and how reassuring it is to have a bit of blue sky showing on the horizon.
I really like this piece and find that the solidity of the houses … even though they are built on stilts … illustrates how fog, as eerie and unnerving as it can be, still creates a sense of calm and serenity, because one can not look too far ahead.
WE LIVE IN PRECARIOUS TIMES oil 30×40 $2400
I have started a new series called, “Sticks and Stones”
So far I have laid out 5 canvases of various sizes, and am really happy with the direction that they are taking.
In all of them the light that surrounds wonky stilt houses or tippy city skylines is used to heighten the sense of uneasiness that comes from living in a shifting and uneasy world. The sky and the air around us … Mother Nature at her best … serves to highlight the slightly off kilter world that surrounds us these days
This big piece appears to have city states built on top of random stone work, stairs, and loose bits of technology. There is evidence of crumbled infrastructure that nevertheless serves to support the corporate body. And above it all Mother Nature has created a glorious sunny day.
In part the title refers to the obvious political and economic uneasiness that surrounds most of the world’s population.
However, at a different level it is about learning, as we age, how to live when we are impacted by major health issues, or loss of loved ones … or how to tie a knot and go on when life treats us to one indignity after another.
It also addresses the question of how we interact with the outside world, and how tenuous are the lines of communication between individuals … sometimes it seems as if the connections that we make with others are very delicate and a bit dicey to transverse.
I enjoy the sense of power that this piece brings by resolving chaos into a form of order … design overcoming disorder, as it were. At the same time, while it exudes a sense of stability and peace, upon closer inspection nothing is quite as stable as it would appear.
HEAVY WEATHER 18X24 $900
The impact of weather approaching over the long flat expanses of the Midwest has a very unique feel, and it is a very strong visual memory.
My family spent some time in Kansas City, Kansas. I was initially amazed that it was so cosmopolitan and yet a heartbeat away you were in the plains … looking at farmland for as far as you could see. That was a long time ago of course, and I’m sure much has changed … but the memory is still as strong as ever.
This piece expresses much the same sense of an unchanging and changeable world. The sense of an invincible and staunch world at the mercy of weather and circumstances is never more visible than in the lone barns and homes that dot the landscape of the plains.
I like the concept of the buildings standing strong against whatever weather comes. These barns are seasoned warriors.They hang in there whatever comes.
I guess I will never really stop with the landscapes … even as I continue exploring life in precarious times. And, I suppose that this landscape is no different … after all life on a the Great Plains can be precarious indeed.
I am pleased to announce that I am now represented by Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale Arizona.
It is a real pleasure to work with them in bringing my work to a larger audience. If you are spending the winter in the warmer clime of the Southwest, stop in on Scottsdale’s, Thursday Night Art Walk while visiting the area.
ON TOP OF THE WOLRD
A VISIT FROM MATISSE
TEA COSY TOWN
So this is the new form of the old planet series that I started last fall. Since then I have started a second series of fish and their world as our own.
The two motifs, planets and fish, come together in this piece and begs the question … What if space in our world is really no different than that of outer space? In this circumstance, which world is being invaded by whom?
Both fish and planets share a sense of weightlessness that gives them a graceful, and rather surreal quality that is intrinsic to their nature. In our dreams we share that same weightless sense of freedom. But it brings with it some of our other, less reassuring, unease.
In this case the feeling is energizing. not frightening, but there is a sense that that could change at any moment.
SEASIDE RENEWAL – OIL/PALETTE KNIFE – 30X40 – $1800
The latest of my architectural pieces this is really fun, and has an insane depth of texture. It feels like you could peek around any corner and see the water. And, are those people on the roof looking at the view???
Seriously, the texture of buildings that have been baking in the sun and surviving the winds and rains of harsh New England winters have a unique depth of character all their own. I am fascinated by those houses and storefronts that seem to hunker down for the bad weather, looking grim and grey, and then reemerge when the sun comes out, looking festive and full of life. Nowhere else is there the same feeling that the buildings carry on a life of their own once the tourists leave.
MR MONOPOLY RETIRES
OIL ON GOLD LEAF
8 X 6
This is an older piece that hangs in my studio and is still a favorite. Mr Monopoly and his monocle continue to amuse me because he is painted on gold leaf, and looks relaxed and unconcerned that the market is acting up!
Painting on gold leaf is a very different experience from painting on a gessoed surface. The slick quality of the leaf creates a surface that gives the paint more chance to move around, and act in unexpected ways.
This particular image is on a canvas board that has been gold leafed. The surface has more of a bite than other leaf surfaces that I have used. It is easier to control the pigments as they are laid down, but the shine of the gold that comes through is more subdued. I did a couple of pieces on this kind of surface, but find that I prefer the smoother surface of a gessoed board with the gold leaf as a base. That type of ultra-smooth surface is the same surface that I used to create a series that examined trees and their landscapes.
Mr Monopoly has that self satisfied look that comes with the robber baron attitude. It is rather nice that he has been reduced in size and made to look ordinary even though he is made of gold.