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Posts Tagged ‘Red Tree’

If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.

Henry Miller
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We often search and search, moving from place to place, trying to find that certain something that we can’t quite name. We have it in our minds that it is a physical place, a tangible object, that will satisfy our need to wander.

New people to meet.

New streets to explore.

New landscapes to surround us. New hills to climb.

But maybe what we seek is just a new way of seeing ourselves, of a new opportunity to unleash the person we desire ourselves to be. Or, more likely, a chance to see ourselves as we really are, something that becomes obscured in the familiar. Being anchored, as Miller infers above, in the repetition of  day to day life has us showing ourselves always in the same light. We lose touch with aspects of who we are that are never allowed to come to light.

The search allows us that new perspective. While we remain the same we see ourselves from new angles, new vantage points, allowing us to feel new. Different.

Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is not, exposing perspectives on ourselves we would rather not see and may have hidden for a long time. But hopefully unveiling the truth of all that we are will somehow  make us feel comfortable in our wholeness.  Knowing our shortcomings as well as our strengths make us more real, more human.

What we seek is always with us.

You might not view it the same way but that’s what I am seeing in this new painting, an 8″ by 16″ canvas, that I call Destination Seen. It is headed to the West End Gallery for my upcoming show, Self Determination, which opens July 14.

 

 

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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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There are colors that really trigger reactions within me. Most people would no doubt think that the color red would be the main one and perhaps they are right. The Red Tree is certainly the thing that would come to mind for those who know my work. And Red Roofs and Red Chairs.

Or maybe one might think that it’s the Indian yellow, a warm color that was the basis for much of my early work. It creates a most satisfying peaceful feeling in me still, after all these years. It would n’t be a bad guess.

But for me, I always come back to the blues along with the purples that spin off of them. They excite, mesmerize, tranquilize, intoxicate and pacify me. They take the melancholy and anxiety of existence and mix it with the sheer joy of living and feeling to create an aura that surrounds our life. I don’t even know if that sentence makes any sense but it sure feels like the color blue to me.

An example of this might be found in this new painting that is part of my show at the Principle Gallery that opens a week from today, June 2. This 12″ by 12″ painting on canvas is titled Passing the Blues.

It’s a piece that I have been coming back to in the past few weeks, just hovering over it as I take it in.  There’s a feeling in it for me that I would describe as sweet sorrow. Kind of like the appreciation you might have for the melancholy that sometimes comes with this life. It’s not joy but it lets you know that you are are a living and feeling person.

And that, in itself, is a wonderful thing.

And that is how I see the blue colors.

Here’s a song that has that same feeling of sweet sorrow for me.  It’s a great song originally written and performed by Dolly Parton. It’s Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind and is performed here by a favorite of mine, Rhiannon Giddens.

 

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This new painting is titled With Sanction of the Moon. It’s a 10″ by 20″ canvas that is part of my solo show, Truth and Belief, that opens in a little over two weeks on June 2 at the Principle Gallery.  The show seems to be coming together really well with so many of the paintings pleasing me in surprising ways. This piece kind of symbolizes that aspect of the show.

It’s a painting that has been in process for a long time.  I think I started it in the autumn of last year but set it aside soon after so that it was one of those pieces that are propped against a studio wall where I glimpse at them a number of times on a daily basis, trying to ascertain where they might head later in the process.  Its early stages had given it some potential that I thought would emerge eventually but it just wasn’t talking to me.

There is a certain point in my process where the painting has what I would call a dull phase.  When it first goes down on the canvas it rides the initial energy that comes from the composition and the thought process behind that. But in the subsequent steps that energy lags a bit and there is a point where the paint seems to go dull and flat. I have at that point lost the vigor of the initial composition and am fixated on the surface so that when the paint goes flat I lose a lot of my inspiration.

Now, having done this for many years now, I anticipate this stage in the progress of many of my paintings.  It doesn’t worry me when the paint looks listless at that point because I know that each subsequent layer will bring back the life that seems lacking and will reawaken my energy source if it goes as I hope. That’s always a thrilling moment for me, when a piece is reinvigorated in this manner. The initial excitement that comes with the composition comes back in a big way and the painting feels new again.  That flatness is instantly forgotten, as though it never took place.

This piece seemed trapped in that flat stage for a long time for me and I began to wonder if it might make more sense to paint it over and restart on something new. But I could never do that to this piece. I was convinced that there was something there worth preserving, something that would emerge that would be far beyond what I was seeing in the moment.

So I bided my time until a week or so ago. I was in a nice groove with my painting which gave me confidence to dive into this piece with the hopes that I could find its hidden potential. The flatness faded quickly and it was soon in a state that pleased me greatly. It had a voice and life of its own. I had to shake my head that I had doubted it in the first place.

Paintings like this, where I lose then rediscover them much later, are often my favorites.  I’m not saying that they are better paintings. Maybe because they require more conscious thought and effort, unlike those pieces that sometimes just fall out almost on their own, paintings like this remain deeply etched in my memory.

I think I will take another look.

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Every now and then a man’s mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

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This new painting has been capturing my eye in the studio every time I mindlessly glimpse in its direction.  It instantly wakens my mind and sets it into a deeper focus, making me look deeper into the painting as I try to ascertain what is there that has convinced me that there is something more beyond the deepest point in the painting, something that triggers thought and emotion.

It pulls me in and swallows me up.

I don’t know why that is, exactly.  It could be the deep colors or the contrast of the light around the sun/moon/whatever. The simple forms and the depth into the picture plane?

I just don’t know.

But as the quote above from the elder Oliver Wendell Holmes ( the father of the famous jurist who was great man of letters in the 19th century) claims, it creates a sensation in me that stretches me, makes me want to experience it again, makes me want to know more. To feel more. To expand beyond the smallness of who I am now as a human, shedding the baser qualities that have marked me up to now.

And to stay in that expansive state, to not shrink back into that lesser self.

In short, I like this piece. As always, you might not see it this way or see in it anything that stirs you at all. And that is as it should be because I primarily paint for myself, paint to satisfy my own needs and desires. The fact that anyone sees something in them is a gift and a surprise to me.

A small miracle, in fact.

So, if you find something in this piece that stirs you, I thank you for creating that miracle so that I might experience it.

This painting, Looking Beyond, is 12″ by 16″ on canvas. It is included in my solo show, Truth and Belief, which opens June 2 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.

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Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable. 

Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

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This is another new painting that is headed to the Principle Gallery for my solo show that opens on June 2. The name I chose for this show is Truth and Belief, two concepts that often, especially in this past year of confusion, get jumbled up in our minds

At least, that’s what I believe. It might be true. Or not.

You see, that’s the thing.  We often claim to want to know the truth but what we want is validation. We want a truth that confirms what we already believe to be true.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

And in the face of a truth that contradicts their beliefs, some will hang onto their misguided belief with even greater tenacity.  They view the truth at this point as an adversary, something to be overcome or at least pushed aside to make room for their belief.

But truth is always there, like it or not.  It will at some point come into view for all to see, believers and non-believers alike.

And that’s what I see in this piece.  The path going into the picture separates with one branch heading into the forest  where the view will be limited by the trees and the terrain. The other branch follows a route that takes it to a higher point where the view is unobstructed. The truth of that time and place is clear and undeniable despite what one might believe.

Now a disclaimer: I don’t know if any of this is actually true.  But I do believe it to be so. As much as it can be for a schlub sitting in the woods in front of a computer at 6 in the morning. Once I climb to a better vantage point I might think otherwise.

This piece is titled Seeking Truth and is 12″ by 12″ on canvas.

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“Can anything be imagined so ridiculous, that this miserable and wretched creature [man], who is not so much as master of himself, but subject to the injuries of all things, should call himself master and emperor of the world, of which he has not power to know the least part, much less to command the whole?”

Michel de Montaigne (1532-1592), Apology for Raymond Sebond

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Dominium is the title of this new painting, a 24″ by 24″ canvas that is part of my annual solo exhibit at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. The show opens June 2.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time looking at this painting in the last several weeks and have found that it is an easy piece in which to withdraw. Even though there are paths coming into the picture, which normally denotes the presence of people, it is the absence of humans that is the message that I get from this piece.

We have no dominion over this world. It is the land that holds sovereignty for no matter how badly we abuse and squander the bounty that this world provides, it will no doubt persist in some living form well beyond the very short time our species will litter its surface. We are not the owners of the land or its creatures nor treat this planet as though we were. No, we should act only as caretakers and custodians of this world, for that is the only way we can extend our tenuous time in this bountiful place.

Maybe this is snapshot of a time beyond ours. Or maybe it is a hopeful example of how we should coexist with our environment.

I don’t know which. I do know that it makes me feel better to just stare at it for a while and that’s a good thing these days. It’s far too easy today to cynically believe that the hubris, stupidity and selfishness that is so prevalent in our species will prevail. All available evidence points in that direction.

But this piece gives me a bit of peace of mind and with that comes the possibility for hope. And that hope at least makes possible the opening of one’s mind which leads to the possibility of obtaining wisdom. And wisdom gives us a chance to use our limited knowledge and abilities to the greatest benefit, to possibly avert destroying our world.

Save the world. That’s a lot to ask of a simple painting. But maybe that is a major purpose of art– to save us from ourselves, to bring light to the darkness.

Okay, in that same vein, this week’s Sunday morning musical selection deals with the ecology.  It’s the classic Mercy Mercy Me from Marvin Gaye. That’s two Sundays in a row for Marvin but it just felt so right.

Give a listen, have some hope and with that, a great day.

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