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.