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Posts Tagged ‘Alexandria VA’

This is a new painting that I am calling Culmination. It is 36″ by 12″ on canvas and is headed to the Principle Gallery in Alexandria next Saturday, September 22, where I will be giving my annual Gallery Talk.

This painting satisfies me on many levels. First, there is a density in its color and composition that I find very appealing. Now, density is not always a quality I seek. Sometimes, I am looking for a lightness or an airiness. But here there is a denseness and weight that gives the piece its presence. I believe this comes from the deep red color ( that perhaps symbolizes the blood that has flowed through us since time immemorial?) and the compacted composition that dominates most of the picture plane.

I also am drawn to the meandering path that wends its way to the top to the top of the hill. The  shorter paths that branch off on either side give it the feeling of a tree making its way toward the sky or an artery going up through one’s body.

The tree analogy is important for me. I see this painting as being about how each of us is a culmination, an end result of all our ancestors who have come before us. I often think about that when I am looking over genealogy charts that show the generations spreading out behind the present generation. It makes me think how amazing each of our lives really is when you consider how many obstacles had to be overcome for us to be here in this moment.

Looking at those charts, I think about treacherous childhoods of earlier times when families often lost multiple children to illness. My own grandmother had three siblings who died before she was born. Or the many long and treacherous trips and voyages, over land and sea, that it took to place us in our present locales. Or I think about the many great-grandfathers and great-uncles in my line who fought in the many wars of this country or in those of their original homelands many generations before, many who died far from their native soil. Or the many who worked in dangerous conditions. Doing my wife’s and my own genealogy, I am struck by how many relatives were killed by logging accidents.

These are just a few examples but the fact that a life force somehow wound its way through the pitfalls of life through hundreds of generations to create us is, in many ways, a miracle. Each of us is the result, the culmination, of a journey from the beginning of time. I think we sometimes take this life for granted– both our own and the lives of others– and don’t see the sheer beauty in the miracle of our mere existence.

And that is what I see in this painting. The Red Tree at the top is at the terminus of its journey, standing at the convergence of the past, present and future. It owes a great debt to those who persevered to bring this miracle, a debt that will be hopefully paid through living a life of honor and respect.

I could go on but I think you get the point.

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As I said, this will be at my Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery next Saturday, September 22. The Talk begins at 1 PM and there will a painting, Deep Focus, given away along with some other neat things. It has all the earmarks of being a good time. Hope you can make it!

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The interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own, serves only to make us ever more unknown, ever less free, ever more solitary.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel Speech 1982

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This is a new painting, a 16″ by 20″ canvas, that is part of Haven, my solo show that opens Friday at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. It is titled Seeking the Design.

I chose the words above from the Nobel Prize speech from the late author Gabriel Garcia Marquez to accompany this painting even though Marquez was speaking above how the people and countries of South America had suffered over the centuries by trying to adhere to patterns of behavior and expectation imposed upon them by foreign influences.

These words spoke to me on a more individual level. We often live our lives according to the norms and expectations of others, following well worn paths from which we seldom, if ever, depart. As a result, we often become no more than others expect us to be.

It as though we have not even attempted to find our own pattern, our own design for living.

And that is what I see in this painting. The Red Tree, an earthly being, has come to the end of that worn path and must make a decision about how to proceed. While there are multitudes of options revealed in the maze-like underpainting of the sky and earthly options that likely exist beyond the layers of distant hills, the Red Tree must choose between finding the pattern that best suits its own desires and needs or going back on that path to follow in the footsteps of the crowd that travels along it.

I get the feeling that latter option would result in one feeling, as Marquez pointed out, more unknown, ever less free and ever more solitary.

For me, this painting has a nice harmony between dark edged weariness and colorful optimism. It is both scary and invigorating in finding one’s own design or pattern to follow. I believe the Red Tree will be following its own path.

Well, that’s how I see it, anyway.

 

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Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

John Muir

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I wish I had a bit more time this morning to write about this smaller painting, a 10″ by 20″ canvas that takes it title, Nature’s Heart,  from the words above from the fabled naturalist John Muir. There has been a recent assault on many of the protections given to our environment and we can’t afford to idly stand by while this happens.

We need clean air, clean water and clean soil to continue as a species. Just as important, we need those pristine places where we can wash our spirits clean, as Muir said.

I see this piece as a plea for everyone to take a position as caretakers of the world in which they aim to prosper.

Take an active stand. Listen and speak up.

Be nature’s heart…

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This painting, Nature’s Heart, is part of Haven, my solo show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria that opens next Friday, June 1.

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Just a month out from my solo show, Haven, at the Principle Gallery. The work for the show as a whole is shaping up well and I am going through waves of elation and anxiety as I prepare. The elation comes in the way I feel the new work is finishing off and the anxiety in that I fear my judgement might be off base a bit, that what I am seeing and feeling in the work might not come across to others.

That I am working with my head in the clouds.

Fortunately– or unfortunately–that anxiety is not new to this show. I’ve had it in varying degrees for every single show I’ve done over the past two decades. This is my 19th solo exhibit at the Principle Gallery and my 52nd or 53rd solo show overall and I can’t remember ever feeling absolutely confident in how people would react to what I was doing. But so long as I have faith in my own reaction to the work, that I trust that I am experiencing real feeling from it, then I live a little easier with that anxiety, even though it never fully recedes.

The piece shown here is a new painting, 24″ by 12″ on canvas, that elicits the elation I described above. It checks every box for what I wanted from it. It has an equilibrium of fineness and roughness that appeals to me. There is a cleanness in its design that makes it feel solid and whole to my eye. It draws me in and lets me feel that I am the Red Tree here and it is a fulfilling experience.

It makes me feel good, to put it plainly.

Now, I must note that these are my reactions. You might look at it and feel nothing. That is no less valid a reaction than my own. But because I know what I am feeling is true and genuine for myself, the anxiety of showing it to someone who might not feel anything from it is lessened.

So, with that thought in mind, I must get back to work.

With my head in the clouds.

This painting is titled, of course, Head in the Clouds. I used the quote below from Thoreau just a week or two ago but it fits this piece and this blogpost so well I am using it again:

It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are, if indeed you cannot get it above them, than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise.

–Henry David Thoreau

In this case, I think I know where I am…

 

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Being at ease with not knowing is crucial for answers to come to you.

–Eckhart Tolle
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This new painting has been sitting within my sight for several days now. I can only speak for myself but I find it really easy piece in which to withdraw, imagining myself in that place, in that moment under that sky. There’s a sense of ease and comfort in it for me.

It just feels right.

Yet there is something enigmatic about it. While there is an air of easiness and acceptance in the painting, there is also a feeling that there is some sort of questioning taking place.

Perhaps a wondering of the why’s and what’s and how’s of this universe and our place in it?

Or the existence of a god or gods? Or the nature of good and evil?

Or perhaps something less weighty.

But even with this questioning there is still a great calmness and ease, as though the Red Tree in this time and place knows that having those answers would not make this particular moment any better.

And perhaps in that moment when a question does not require a response, an answer shows itself.

Perhaps…

 

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I ran this blog entry back in early March but wanted to run it again as we got closer to the opening of Truth and Belief, my solo show opening tomorrow at the Principle Gallery. I wanted to show this painting in its final form with the band of Indian yellow that now surrounds the central image. It was shown without this but I thought that this really added a bold kick to the piece that needed to be shown.

We have to balance the lineality of the known universe with the nonlineality of the unknown universe.

Carlos Castaneda
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I am calling this new painting Balance (Known/Unknown).  It is a 14″ by 32″ canvas and will have a slightly different edge detail that I will show at a later date. [It is shown with it here.]

The Carlos Castaneda quote above just reached out to me when I was looking at this piece. The Red Tree here seems to be standing at the edge of the known, the terrestrial world that is defined here with earthy color, solid forms, and dark lines– the lineal universe.  Beyond it the non-lineal universe beckons, represented by a nebulous sky and a sun that acts as an unblinking eye.

It all is very much a metaphor for the purpose of art and that is to act as an intermediary between the known and the unknown, the go-between for that which is of our five senses and those things that go  far beyond those senses.

Things that we feel in an emotional sense.

And that is what art often does, putting the deep feeling of that which we cannot see onto those things that we do see.  It makes the intangible tangible.

That said, I like this new piece and have been enjoying my time with it. Every day I find a new angle within it that gives me pause, that excites me, and sets me thinking. And that is all I hope for in my work.

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There is also a nice article on this week’s edition of Technique Tuesday on the blog of the Principle Gallery, Principlearttalk. This article has to do with the history and use of stylization in art using my work as a contemporary example. It’s a good read.  You can go to this article by clicking on the Technique Tuesday image above or by clicking here.

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“As I Wander”- 12″ x 6″ on canvas

Getting ready for Friday’s opening of “Truth and Belief,” my solo show at the Principle Gallery. As I wrote the other day, I was a little anxious in the first day or so after delivering the show. My confidence lagged a bit.

Thankfully, that has passed and I am actually feeling very good about this show.  From a superstitious standpoint, I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing but I am truly convinced that this is a good and strong body of work. And from a few images the gallery shared with me yesterday as they were hanging the show that feeling is reinforced.

It has that feeling of rightness that I try to describe so often. And that’s a good thing.

Truth and Belief opens Friday, June 2, at the Principle Gallery in Old Town Alexandria, VA. The opening reception begins at 6:30 and runs until 9 PM. I hope you can make it. If you do, please feel free to introduce yourself or ask questions. It’s my pleasure to be there at your service.

I put together a short video/slideshow of the paintings in the show. It’s a simple and short glimpse of each piece that I hope gives an idea of how the show fits together. Take a look…

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