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Posts Tagged ‘Haiku’

This is an early piece, a small painting on paper that was completed in 1996 or 1997.  Called Night Clouds Creep In, it is one of those pieces that quickly left my hands but whose image remains with me vividly, forever burned into memory.  Unfortunately, I had no real image of this piece.  I had somehow either misplaced the slide of it or had not taken one in the first place.  There were times early on, when this happened more than I would like to admit.

But the collector who acquired this painting those many years back recently brought several early pieces of mine that he owned back to the Principle Gallery so that they could photograph them properly for his records.  I was thus able to be reunited with this image and several others that also fell into this category of  lost images of mine.

As I said, this piece resonated with me.  It’s a great example of my early work, with its spase composition and two distinct blocks that make up the sky and the foreground separated bya thin white line of unpainted surface.  It is a continuation of a series that did early on that I called the Haiku series, inspired by the evocative three line poems of Japan.  These paintings were meant to be simply put yet very imbued with feeling.  Most were field scenes like this.

This piece really captures everything I wanted for this series.  Quiet and still, yet filled with the anticipation of what is to come.  There is a calmness and a tension at one glimpse.  Soothing and ominous, but balanced. In equilibrium.  It just works for me as I see it.  I am grateful to have it back to reinforce my memory of  it.

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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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