For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.
The biblical verse above is of course the one which was the basis for the title for Harper Lee‘s sequel, to her classic To Kill A Mockingbird. In the books, Scout regarded her father, Atticus Finch, as such a watchman, a moral and righteous sentinel looking out for injustice and evil.
And that is kind of how I see the central figure of this new painting, the lone Red Tree set high on rocky outcropping in what seems to be an endless sea. Maybe it is the red of the sky that sets such a tone. I don’t know.
I’ve been fascinated by small islands in my work lately. The isolation of them gives these pieces a brooding quality and reminds me a bit of working as an artist. I’ve often felt that the job of an artist is to act as a sort of watchman.
It is very much a job of isolation, one that is often formed in the solitariness of youth when one always felt like an outsider, observing the world quietly and mostly unseen from the edges of life. The work itself is done and grows in isolation but is very much influenced by one’s observations of the world around them. And much of the work, if it reaches the level of art, is based on a sensitivity to what that artist has observed and felt.
And maybe that is the real purpose of artists, to act as a watcher, looking to warn us of our own straying from reason and to keep our humanity intact. Maybe that is what I see in this painting.
This painting is 8″ by 24″ on canvas and is titled, of course, Watchman. It is coming with me to the Principle Gallery this Saturday, September 17, when I give my Gallery Talk there beginning at 1 PM. There will be a group of new paintings including this piece as well as a group of selected pieces from my studio that will only be available for that day. And there is, of course, the drawing at the end of the talk for the painting, Defiant Heart.
Should be a good time and I hope you can make it to the Principle Gallery this Saturday!