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Posts Tagged ‘Red Tree’

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All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.

Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, 1908

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This little snip from The Wind in the Willows seems to capture that same feeling of a conscious sense of wonder that I see in the new painting above. Titled I Stand Before You, it is 12″ by 36″ on canvas that is part of my solo exhibit, Red Tree 20: New Growth, at the Principle Gallery that opens this Friday, June 7.

I have been showing at the Principle Gallery since the early days of 1997. In the first few years there, I had been included in a group of five painters– Tom Buechner, Marty Poole, Tom Gardner, Rudy Gyr, and myself– from my home region that the gallery termed The Finger Lakes School. That group had two successful annual shows before I was moved out on my own with a solo show in 2000 called Redtree. That was a very successful show and its momentum has, in many ways, carried me through the past two decades.

This year’s show marks my 20th solo show at the Principle Gallery and if I had to use a term to describe what I wanted the work from throughout that time to convey, I might very well use the term sense of wonder. Just being able to witness small bits of this world around me, to see the green of grass and leaf, the ruffle of feathers or the mottle of light on the forest floor, brings about a feeling that I am experiencing all the wonder of this world.

And more than that, this past twenty years has allowed me to maintain that sense of wonder. Part of me expects that sense to diminish as I age but, if anything, it has expanded with through the years. The simplest pleasures, ones that I might well have overlooked in a youthful exuberance to see bigger and grander wonders, now seem like rare and privileged glimpses into the inner workings of the universe.

This very moment, I tuned my head and in the distance I watch two wild turkeys walking up the drive with broken light flashing off their iridescent  feathers. I can’t tell you what a wonder that seems to me and how it makes me appreciate the life I am privileged to live.

As I have pointed out many times before, I am not an overtly religious person. But perhaps this sense of wonder, this sense of awe, fills that same void for me. I don’t know but I am pleased I still wonder about such questions, that I don’t take these simple things that fill me with awe for granted. Maybe that’s a form of prayer.

Who knows?

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Red Tree 20: New Growth opens Friday, June 7, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA, with an opening reception that runs from 6:30 until 9:00 PM. Hope to see you there.

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“Depth of Moment”- From the show “Red Tree 20: New Growth,” at the Principle Gallery

Well, the paintings are in the gallery now for my new solo exhibit, Red Tree 20: New Growth, opening next Friday, June 7, at the Principle Gallery.

I can now let out a big sigh of relief just knowing the biggest part of the process– the creation, finishing, and delivery–is out of the way.

And I can give an even bigger sigh of relief in seeing that the work looks very strong in the gallery. It had the pop in that space that I hoped for. Sometimes pieces can feel bigger and stronger in the studio and much less so in the open space of a gallery. This group had the depth of color and strength of forms along with the sizing and scale that fit well in the space.

They could say what they had to say. That’s all I could hope for them. Now it’s up to them.

Phew! Now it just comes down to seeing if others can see and hear what they are saying. We shall see…

For today’s Sunday morning music, here’s a song from the very unique Leon Redbone, who passed away Thursday at the age of 69. It’s a 1977 performance of Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone. Gentle and easy for a gray and very wet and green morning here. Hope there’s some sunshine for you, wherever you might be.

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“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”

― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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The painting at the top is a new piece that is included in my solo show, Red Tree 20: New Growth, that opens June 7 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. It is titled To Stand in Beauty and is 18″ by 24″ on canvas.

Beauty was the first thing that came to mind when I began looking for a title for this painting. It seems like a fitting representation of the old adage that we should stop and smell the roses.

As Goethe points out above, worldly cares often threaten to obliterate our sense of the beautiful. That may never be more true than it is in these days as there is so much anger, hatred, stupidity, and frustration on public display now. Many of us find ourselves focusing on all that is wrong in this world and in the process forgetting the beauty that often surrounds us.

The beauty of a blooming flower.

The romance of a beckoning horizon.

The graceful strength of a tree trunk.

The awe of a rising mountain.

The lure of a winding path.

I am looking out my studio window from my seat at the moment and a deer is looking back at me from the lawn. Beyond him I can see a couple of wild turkeys strolling up the driveway in front of one of the large rhododendrons that line it. The rhododendron is finally flowering fully, adding a gorgeous splash of color among the greens and grays that surround them. In the distance I can see the mass of yellow irises that are blooming on the edge of the pond. And while I was looking to the distance, a small buck with velvet covered antlers just beginning to develop walks across my line of sight. And above it all. I can hear the chirp of the bird nesting above my front door.

It’s a beautiful moment, one that I all too often overlook, especially when I first come into the studio. I check the news, read emails, begin figuring out what to write for this blog and what my painting agenda might be for the day. And the rush of the day sometimes blots out the beauty that surrounds me.

But this painting, especially this morning when I am in the final frantic steps of putting the work for the show together so that it can be delivered tomorrow, has reminded me to stop and consider things of beauty instead of news or emails or whatever bothersome tasks lie ahead.

And it has made a difference. Goethe was correct, there is beauty to be found in music, poetry and fine pictures as well in simply looking out at the natural world for a moment.

We can all stand in beauty if we choose to look.

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The mantra becomes one’s staff of life, and carries one through every ordeal. It is no empty repetition. For each repetition has a new meaning, carrying you nearer and nearer to God.”

–Mahatma Gandhi

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I wanted part of my upcoming June show at the Principle Gallery to feature not only new growth, as the show’s title implies, but a few nods of acknowledgement back to my older work. The new painting above, one that I finished just yesterday and am calling Mantra, is such a nod.

I have periodically used multiple images in my work through the years. Some were quite large back in my earlier days, some having as many as 60+ images making up the piece. I am attracted by the look of these piece but also by the mindset required when painting them, one with a blank concentration, one that produces a repetition of thought and form.

This repetition of thought and form produces small incremental changes in each cell. Each is the same but slightly different.

That could be the mantra for my work.

Over the past twenty years of these shows, the work has always changed in small increments. Changes in colors and tones. Changes in strokes and textures. Additions and subtractions in elements and forms. Each is the same but slightly different.

Again, the mantra.

I guess that is why I chose that word mantra for the title. As Gandhi points out above, it is no empty repetition.

Each repetition is new and has its own meaning even though it is seemingly the same. Each is its own moment in time, its own coordinate on the grid of time and space.

Whether this repetition takes one closer to god, as Gandhi adds, I cannot say. I don’t know what that even means. But if it means that it brings one closer to understanding and a sense of unity with this world, then I agree heartily and this painting, this mantra, says everything I need to know.

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My new solo exhibit at the Principle Gallery , my 20th annual show there, is titled Red Tree: New Growth and opens June 7, 2019 at their Alexandria, VA gallery.  The painting above, Mantra, will be included in this show.

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“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,

There is a rapture on the lonely shore,

There is society, where none intrudes,

By the deep sea, and music in its roar:

I love not man the less, but Nature more”

Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

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This another new painting, coming in at 24″ by 24″ on canvas, that is headed to the Principle Gallery for my annual solo show there. The show,my 20th solo effort at the Alexandria gallery, is titled Redtree: New Growth and opens on June 7. This painting is titled Solitude’s Rapture.

I don’t know if solitude is for everybody. Some people might look at this painting with a little discomfort, seeing in it isolation and loneliness. But for myself, it represents a total freedom of the self, one that allows one’s absolute truth to emerge. A freedom that allows one to experience clear glimpses of our connection with all being.

The lines above from Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage express this feeling well. Alone on a shore, one can begin to hear and converse with nature. The lap and roar of the sea becomes language as does the light of the sun and moon as it sifts through clouds above. It is in these conversations that we come to better understand that we are both small and large, insignificant yet integral.

Of  course, this is not a practical matter for most of us. I have my own little island of solitude here in my studio but I am not isolated. My regular life has me out in the world, interacting with people on a regular basis. But knowing that I will soon be back on my island where the only conversation taking place is in myself.

Hermann Hesse put it well in the excerpt below from his book, Reflections. He mentions it as being a way of bitter suffering. I suppose initially, for those who have been always in the society of others and seldom alone, this may be the case when faced with solitude. But, as he points out, when you get past that discomfort, the rewards of solitude are rapturous.

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“We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.”

Hermann Hesse, Reflections

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Super busy day. Still feverishly painting away and mixing in beginning prep work on staining frames and varnishing paintings as the  clock ticks down. Only two weeks until I deliver this group of work to the Principle Gallery for my solo show there, opening June 7. There is always a sense of tension, panic and rush at this point in getting ready for a show, something I know from the fact that this year’s show is my 20th solo effort at the Principle. After all these years, I know the routine that has been formed.

But there is even a bit of added anxiety in it being the 20th show there. I guess this anxiety comes, putting it in the simplest terms, because I fear every show could be my last show, my last chance to prove myself, my final opportunity to demonstrate that I am deserving. This being the 20th just accentuates that point that there might not be a 21st.

Fear as a primary motivator doesn’t sounds right when pertaining to art but it seems to be the case with me. I don’t know if that’s good or bad and I really don’t care at this point. It keeps me from lulling myself into an attitude where I believe I am owed anything from anybody. Experience has taught me that I am entitled to nothing, that I have to treat every show as my first and possibly last show.

So, I am going to get to work in an early morning cold sweat. Just the way it should be, I guess. I thought I’d share a song, It Takes a Lot to Know a Man,  from Irish singer Damien Rice. There are two version below. One is the studio recorded song with instrumentation and accompanying lyrics.

The other is a live vocal performance that took place at a German music festival with Rice and the choral group Cantus Domus performing for an audience of one.  A single audience member at each show was kidnapped and taken to a hidden location. When the sack was removed from their heads they found that they were in what appears to be some sort of underground chamber surrounded by the group and Rice, who proceed to give them a one to one concert experience. I can only imagine being both incredibly uncomfortable and deeply moved. It’s an interesting film and a lovely song.

Have a great day.


 

 

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“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

― Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

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This is a new painting, 18″ by 24″ on panel, that is headed to the Principle Gallery for my upcoming show, Redtree: New Growth, that opens June 7. It’s been one of those pieces that keeps drawing my eye in its direction here in the studio. Maybe it’s the rings of colorful flowers– part of the New Growth from the show’s title–that encircle the Red Tree that attract my eye. They have a gem-like quality in the landscape.

I have mentioned in the past how I view many of my Red Tree paintings as being portraiture as much as they are landscapes, with the Red Tree and the foreground landscape often serving as the head and shoulders of a portrayed figure.  That certainly holds true for this piece, which I have titled  The Pharaoh’s Necklace.

In this piece, I see the Red Tree as a head held high with the colorful bands around the mound– the neck here– transforming from beds of flowers into a sort of necklace like those seen of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. By the way, for your daily dose of useless facts, that type of necklace is called a usekh or wesekh.

Seeing this painting as a portrait, I see it as a portrayal of the strength and pride of someone who has, as Thoreau describes above, endeavored to live the life they have imagined in their dreams and have met with unexpected success.

More than that, it’s a painting of possibility, one that points out that we all have the potential to realize our hopes and aspirations, That is, if we can first formulate a dream. I sometimes get the feeling that many people have never given their dreams much thought.

As to those who have, I often wonder if many people actually maintain the dreams of their youth into their adulthood. If not, have they convinced themselves that these dreams were foolish and unattainable then finally ceased all pursuit? Or perhaps they had aspirations that didn’t match up with their actual strengths and abilities?

For example, I knew at an early age that my dream of being the ace of the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff was off the table. And I never had the nerve to be a master thief. I knew my dreams had to focus on the few qualities I possessed and prized if they were ever going to come to fruition, if I was ever going to wear my own pharaoh’s necklace.

And, thankfully, there are some days when I do feel that I am sporting my own gem encrusted usekh. Those are the good days of this life and this painting is how those certain days feel to me.

 

 

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