Posts Tagged ‘Basho’

Into StillnessAt my first solo show, in 2000, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA, I was approached by many people all asking the same question: “Can you tell us about your Japanese influences?”  If it had been one or two people I wouldn’t have thought anything of the question but this was like 30 or 40 people all asking the same question.

I explained that there wasn’t any overt connection or influence from any particular Japanese artist.  This was true.  I had seen prints, obviously, but hadn’t really looked deeply into them.  I didn’t even know who Hokusai or Hiroshige were.  Didn’t know much at all, to be honest.

I was more influenced by the haiku poetry form, such as those from Basho.  I loved its simplicity and spareness of form, the way those three short lines of verse could create a real sense of atmosphere.  You could feel the sense of quiet that I sought in my work.  I even had a series of paintings early in painting career titled after the haiku.

I think that the works of Japanese masters such as Hokusai and Hiroshige carry this same feeling,the same that is instilled in many haikus.  There is a placidness, a calmness that permeates the work.  I was honored that people saw a similar quality in my work even though the similarity was coincidental.

Pieces such as the one shown here, Into Stillness, are among my favorites to paint because of the calm attitude that is required to make the piece come alive.  I can only paint them successfully when I am able to shake off all cares and troubles and find a point of stillness.  They really don’t come as easily as I might wish.

But I can hope…

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