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Archive for July 18th, 2010

Sometimes a title for a piece is so undeniable that it makes all other attempts at naming it seem utterly futile.  When I completed this 8″ by 16″ painting on paper, I tried to find something in it that reminded me of  something other than  the feeling of  Eastern influence that seemed to drip from the surface.  The bonsai-like tree and the mound from which it sprouts.  The rising sun.  Even the way the sky is segmented and shaded seemed to bring forth thought of a flag from the East.  It all conspired to give the painting a decidedly Eastern Zen flavor.

I was trying to get away from having the viewer see the piece as only a product of influence, as though that might somehow lessen the work.  But isn’t every painting a product of influence somehow?  I can often see the onfluence of others in my work.  A bit of color here borrowed from something I’ve seen in another artist’s work.  I remember doing a piece when I was first showing and I had used a green in the work that had a wonderful rich earthiness to it.  This little bit of my painting so reminded me of the greens that Albrecht Durer had used in some of his lovely paintings of small wildlife such as rabbits and squirrels.  One day, I was in the gallery and the piece was hanging when another artist who also showed his work there saw it.

“That’s Durer’s green!” he exclaimed. 

I was thrilled that he caught it, that he saw the same qualities in it that I saw in Durer’s use of the color even though there was no other similarity in the work.  It provided a real insight into how influence works in how we create and view work.

So, why fight it when an influence shows through even more prominently?  It was influenced by the East as am I.  Even as I sit here now, my desk looks out an east-facing window as I watch the sun’s rays filter through the thick foliage of the trees as it rises from the east.  Every morning that I look into the eastern sky I am influenced by it.  You can’t deny your influences or habits, the things that shape your views.  So to call this piece anything other than Eastern Influence would be like trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

This painting is part of the New Days exhibit of my work at the West End Gallery in Corning, NY  that open this Thursday, July 22.

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