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Posts Tagged ‘Quote’

Windows

 “A house without books is like a room without windows.” 
― Horace Mann

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For many years now the houses in my paintings have had no doors or windows. People often comment on this and ask why that is. But there was a period of time in the early 2000’s when there were a group of pieces that had houses sporting windows and a few doors.

The houses in these paintings had a different feel than my typical houses. They seem warmer and more human, less anonymous and less inward turned. These houses with windows most likely fit the quote above from the 19th century American educator Horace Mann, appearing to be open to the world, outward looking and conscious of and at peace with their place in the world. Most likely, there are shelves filled with books and inquisitive, reasoning people in those houses.

The presence of these windowed houses often changes the focus of the painting. Take for instance the piece at the top, Riverspirit. The Red Tree perched on a mound above the river would normally be the center of this painting’s attention.  But in this iteration, the windowed cottage takes centerstage. The emotion of the piece is directed from the point of view of the house rather than the Red Tree, strong as it might be.

It was interesting putting together this small group. The similarities in warmth and contentedness is striking. I found myself personally drawn to these pieces and wonder why more windows don’t find their way into my current work.

Maybe they will soon but for now I will enjoy these pieces for bit longer.

Heartland

Where Serenity Dwells

Where Chaos Ends

Streaming Nostalgic

The Strangest Dream

Story’s End

 

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“As he was about to climb yet another dune, his heart whispered, “Be aware of the place where you are brought to tears. That’s where I am, and that’s where your treasure is.” 

― Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist

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This is another new painting, 4″ by 18″ on paper, that is part of the new group of paintings that will be coming with me to the Principle Gallery on Saturday, where I will giving my annual Gallery Talk beginning at 1 PM.

I call this piece All the Treasure of the World. It’s a continuation of the theme that I featured here a few weeks back in an entry about Acres of Diamonds, the story of an African farmer who sold his land to seek wealth far and wide without realizing that the actual treasure was in his original land.

The difference here is that the definition of treasure is altered from wealth in the form of diamonds and gems to the real treasure that is contained in personal contentment and a deep emotional bond with one’s life and the surrounding world.

Instead of mining for diamonds and gold, one sees the wealth found in being able to watch a cloud lazily meander across the sky.

In the beauty of a field filled with flowers or the gentle curve of a path that takes you home.

In the tears that come with memories of joy or sadness. The tears that come from the recognition of one’s own humanity.

Maybe that’s a lot to ask for in a simple painting but I see these things in this piece. And I feel better for it, understanding in a way where the real treasure lies.

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GALLERY TALK

at the

PRINCIPLE GALLERY

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 AT 1 PM

GOOD TALK, PAINTINGS, PRIZES AND MORE!

WIN A PAINTING!

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Memento mori-remember death! These are important words. If we kept in mind that we will soon inevitably die, our lives would be completely different. If a person knows that he will die in a half hour, he certainly will not bother doing trivial, stupid, or, especially, bad things during this half hour. Perhaps you have half a century before you die-what makes this any different from a half hour?

Leo Tolstoy

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I am bringing a group of selected paintings with me to this Saturday’s Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery that will only be available for that day.  Going through a few paintings I came across the painting above that has lived a quiet life with me for many years now.

It is a 16″ by 20″ oil on canvas painted in early 2001. Titled Blaze a Trail it was hanging in the Principle Gallery on September 11, 2001, that sad day that still haunts our country these sixteen years later. I don’t like to commemorate it outside of thinking about the tragedy of the lives lost that day. But for some reason this painting reminds me of that day, even more so that the work that emerged in the time after the tragedy that was a direct reaction to it.

It has become a sort of memento mori  for me, a reminder that we never know when death may visit each of us. Maybe that’s why it has spent it’s life with me–since soon after September 11th so it’s about 16 years now– with its face to the wall, away from my eyes. When I would go through the stack that held this piece I would shuffle by it quickly, hardly taking it in as though I just didn’t want to see it.

But for this show I pulled it out and left it so that I couldn’t help but see it on a regular basis. At first, I felt a mild discomfort with it that tainted how I saw it. But the more I looked at it, the more I was able to look past the day I had attached to it and see what I saw in it before that day. Ans I saw that there was much to like. I liked the rhythm of it, in the bend of the tree and the roll of the landscape. I liked the darkness behind the orange in the foreground.

Most of all, I liked seeing the dislodged paint brush bristles that were embedded in the paint of the sky. I ran my fingers over them this morning while looking at the painting and it touched me that they were a direct link back to when I was working on it in the months before September 11, a time that seems ages ago and naively innocent now. Those bristles were of that time and touching them made me remember how very good and creatively energetic I felt in those days.

And in that instant, this piece no longer felt like a memento mori reminding me of  our mortality. No, it felt much more akin to its title, Blaze a Trail. It felt like a celebration of  life and embracing fully the time that remains.

It is now for me as much a memento vitae– a remembrance of lifeas it was a memento mori.

I am still deciding if I will bring this piece with me. I have mixed feelings. We’ll see…

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“The end of a melody is not its goal: but nonetheless, had the melody not reached its end it would not have reached its goal either. A parable.” 

 Friedrich Nietzsche

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Today is the last day that my solo show, Self Determination, hangs at the West End Gallery in Corning.

It’s been a great show by all metrics. Many paintings have found new homes. Many people have come through the gallery to see the work. We had a full house for the Gallery Talk that went with this show.

Personally, beyond seeing people take the work home with them, it was a very rewarding show in the recognition and acceptance of my own voice. As paintings came off the wall and were replaced by work that the gallery had on hand, there wasn’t a loss of constancy between the new and older works. I had been a bit worried that the older work would stand out but it fell together seamlessly. There were paintings that were a couple of years old that felt reborn among the newer paintings.

And that pleased me, confirming my belief and hope that I was really working in my own creative voice. This work was who I am. It wasn’t forced, wasn’t contrived. It was real.

And for me, that is what I have been seeking. I have always wanted the work to speak to the viewer in plain and simple terms, like a conversation with a friend where you are absolutely yourself, with no pretense or posturing. With an openness that allows free expression of deeper emotion. And to my eyes and senses, that was what I was feeling with this group of work.

I want to thank everyone who came out for the show during its run, especially those of you who chose to make some of these paintings part of your life. Your support and your eyes are a constant source of encouragement.

And special thanks, to Jesse and Lin at the West End Gallery for your belief, your acceptance and your always honest representation of my work. I cannot fully express how much that has meant to me personally and professionally.

So, that being said, if you want to see the show, today is your last day. Hope you can make it.

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“I feel I change my mind all the time. And I sort of feel that’s your responsibility as a person, as a human being – to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible. And if you don’t contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you’re not thinking.” 

― Malcolm Gladwell

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I am using these words from Malcolm Gladwell today because it fits well with my feelings on the painting I am showing here. By that I mean that this is a piece on which my mind has changed over the years, from feeling it was okay at first to loathing to grudging acceptance to now actually liking it quite a bit.

It’s a small painting, something like 7″ by 8″ on paper,  from 2006 that is titled In the Eye of Grace. When I first finished this piece it felt pretty good and evoked an emotion that hit a mark for me. It wasn’t blessed with that initial giddy excitement that often comes when finishing a painting but it felt right. It was good and I felt confident in showing it in the galleries.

So it was framed and sent out. It never found a home and came back to me a year or two later where it has been ever since. After being with it for a while, I began to actually dislike this painting. It bugged the hell out of me and I could never determine why that was the case.

I finally decided that it might be the way it was framed, set in a very wide mat and an extra heavy wide frame. It was a cumbersome setting for a small piece and I began to realize that I didn’t like– actually, I hated– the grandiose feeling of the frame for such a quiet small painting. It was like having a small simple gem placed in the middle of an overly large and ornate setting. Overwhelmed and eclipsed.

So I began to accept that I was letting my judgement be swayed by its setting. I no longer cringed when I came across it in the studio. It felt okay enough.

But in the past several months I placed this painting, still in its fat frame, in a place where I saw it while doing my morning workout. I began to really look at it and my doubts and distaste faded away. It was like I had disregarded the title I had given the painting years ago, In the Eye of Grace. It did have a simple grace that was easy to overlook.

It became a favorite in my morning ritual. I determined that I would change the frame to one that would let its grace shine through a little more easily. It’s funny how things sometime change, how even my own perception of a piece of myself can transform in several directions through the years even while that piece of self remains the same.

We are sometimes strange creatures living with moments of grace that we fail to see…

 

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Exiles--QuartetWe all carry within us our places of exile, our crimes, and our ravages. But our task is not to unleash them on the world; it is to fight them in ourselves and in others.

Albert Camus

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I have written about and showed a number of the pieces from my early Exiles series here on this blog. It was a very important group of work for me in that it was the first real break towards forming my own voice, creating and displaying work that was emotional for myself. It was also the work that spawned my first solo show in early 1997.

The inspiration for this work was mainly drawn from the experience of watching my mother suffer and die from lung cancer over a short five or six month period in 1995. Her short and awful struggle was hard to witness, leaving me with a deep sense of helplessness as I could only wish that there was a way in which I could somehow alleviate her pain. Most of the work deals with figures who are in some form of retrospection or prayer, wishing for an end to their own suffering.

But another part of this work was drawn from my own feelings of emotional exile, a feeling of estrangement in almost every situation. I had spent the better part of my life to that point  as though I didn’t belong anywhere, always on the outside viewing the world around me as stranger in a strange land, to borrow the words of that most famous biblical exile, Moses. These figures were manifestations of that sense of inner exile that I carried with me.

Little did I know that these very figures would help me find a way out of this exile. With their creation came a sense of confidence and trust in the power of my self-revelation. I could now see that the path from the hinterlands of my exile was not in drawing my emotions more and more inward, allowing no one to see. No, the path to a reunion with the world was through pouring this emotion onto the surface of paper or canvas for all to see.

This is hard to write and I am struggling with it as I sit here this morning. I started writing this because I had been reconsidering revisiting this series, creating a new generation of Exiles. But in pondering this idea I realized that the biggest obstacle was in the fact that I no longer felt so much a stranger in a strange land. I no longer felt like the Exile, no longer lived every moment with these figures. It turned out that they were guides for me, leading me back to the world to which I now feel somewhat connected, thanks to my work.

If there is to be a new series, they will most likely not be Exiles.

The piece shown here, Quartet,  is one of my favorites, a grouping of four figures.  You may not see it in these figures but the visual influence for this work were the carvings found on Mayan ruins of Mexico and Central America.  I myself see this mainly in the figure at the bottom right.

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Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise men.

–Thomas Huxley

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This painting, Golden Beacon, was an addition to my current show at the West End Gallery that got its first showing at the Gallery Talk on Saturday. I am pleased to say that this piece found an adoring home in the aftermath of the talk.

I spoke with its new caretaker for a while after the talk, describing what I saw in this painting and how it differed in feeling from a similar painting hanging in the show that I wrote about in an earlier post. That painting, The Center Holds, was about the individual holding strong to its beliefs and core values as the chaos of the world swirled threateningly above and below.

I see this piece in a slightly different light. It is still about strength, still concerned with perseverance and staying true to inner truths. But it is also about how that type of behavior acts as an example for others to follow. Standing up to the fear, anger and hatred that is so often sowed by agents of darkness serves as beacon shedding broad beams of light that guide others past those perils.

I see a calmness in this painting that is based on a belief in logic, knowledge and truth. And in the glow of that light, the darkness separates and flees.

I think this piece is about both finding a source of light and calmness to guide you through times of darkness and, in turn, becoming a beacon to others. My hope is that the new owner of this painting sees this as such an inspiration. I know that it will always live that way in me.

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