Friday, April 18, 2014

A Gentle Valor

Art speaks in different voices.  They can be soothing, questioning or even shouting.  Expressions are as varied as the humans that create the work.  My own voice has evolved as I've experimented with different media, explored numerous subjects and grown to trust my personal process.  While I still occasionally use recognizable forms in my paintings, I label my work abstract.  I've discovered that a lot of people are uncomfortable with abstract and prefer representational imagery.


Just as no one genre of music will appeal to everyone, or one kind of reading material, I would never expect everyone to respond to abstract art.  I think, though, that possibly some people resist non-representational paintings because they don't immediately see something they understand.  They may not know how to respond.  In part this is actually why I prefer to create abstract paintings.  Viewers can bring their own experiences to a non-representational work and react to it from an element in themselves that may be different than the side of them that admires landscape, a figure in a room or a vase bursting with blooms.



Being sensitive to the world around me, I am deeply affected by colors, textures, lines and forms in my environment.  When I'm hiking I can be transported by bare branches cutting through a bright sky, acid green moss contrasting with the cedar red slice of a newly cut tree or sunlight filtered through the forest, joyously illuminating a stream of clear water.

I am similarly moved by faded, overlapping pigments on homes in Trastevere, ancient olive trees arm in arm in a Tuscan field, or the scabby accumulation of posters glued on a Sicilian wall.

In addition to the visual feast I attend, I am continually aware of the emotions evoked by memories, and feelings in words I read or hear.  Every part of my day can contribute to the metaphorical, almost magical, pot inside me that is the source of all that comes forward as I begin a new painting.  I don't have a plan except to begin by laying color over my white surface and initiating a dialogue with what happens.  Once this journey commences I am attentive to choices I make.  Perhaps the initial color I choose reminds me of a door I photographed in Ortigia, so I begin thinking about my experience there.  Instead of sketching in that door with paint, I open a door into my emotions to draw on my filled vessel of experiences...the colors, textures and lines I've absorbed and assimilated.  As the work progresses over days and weeks, communication continues.  I spend as much time "listening" to my painting as I do "putting in my own two cents."  I can say I know it is done when I greet it one morning and know its name.

One Enormous Sky


I am always, of course, delighted when someone looks at my work and perhaps recognizes some part of themselves contained within.  A person may not understand why they like an abstract painting beyond the colors or something in the composition that speaks to them, but I like to think they are learning to trust their own instincts and beginning their own dialogue with my work.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Art and Color

My favorite childhood book

Ever since I was a young child and was thrilled by repeated readings of Little Golden Book's The Color Kittens, I have been in love with the joy and meaning of color.  For me, color has always had an impact on my feelings and emotions, and I associate color with sensitivity.

Having been a creative person all my life, and a painter for more than 20 years, I feel as though I am beginning to understand the capability of art to nurture one's spirit.  As I developed my skills as an artist I instinctively knew that choosing and using color was, in fact, very supportive of my own well-being.

excavation, oil and mixed media

In recent years, as I've grown as an artist and developed my voice as an abstractionist, I've received many comments from people who felt moved by my work.  The most common thread has been that my art and my colors have a calming effect.

patience, oil and mixed media

repose, oil and mixed media

Because I do not paint recognizable subject matter, those that are drawn to my work often reflect on what they are sensing or feeling.  They may be unaware of what it is about a particular painting that draws them to it, and yet they spend time in reflecting on it, perhaps inducing a moment of contemplation in an otherwise busy life.  I think that the object of reflection begins with the viewer's reaction to the colors.

receptive, oil and mixed media

reverberation, oil and mixed media
I believe that not only does color convey emotion, but that combinations of colors, frequently complimentary colors, intensify the reaction.  My own intention is not set before I begin.  I don't paint a red painting to excite or a green painting to promote relaxation.  I do, however, explore the way colors dance together and create their own magic as they touch, combine, overlap and flow off the edges.  They are containers of sentiment, sparking conversations amongst themselves and they convey energy to me as I work with them.

cadence, oil

traces, oil and mixed media
The people who own my paintings have sometimes told me that they feel an expansion, or a new depth in their thoughts when contemplating my work.  My generous friend and fellow artist, Rosemary Starace, wrote that when someone bought a painting of mine that they owned much more than a beautiful decoration for their wall, but an eternal, gentle reminder of their own richness of being.

This is truly the power in color and how it can affect one's sense of aliveness.  If one reads the new research on the power of thoughts and emotions on cells, there is no doubt in my mind that viewing art that moves you to a peaceful internal space could only have a positive effect.