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Archive for March, 2010

Artist’s Statement

I am a painter of prayers. I create visual psalms of joy, lament or contemplation striving to capture the sense of spirit and grace found in a particular place and time. In my paintings I seek to make reference to the natural world in a manner which speaks to reverence of the divine in daily life.

In the present series The Liturgy of the Hours, I aim to capture a single moment, to give visual and emotional expression to these traditional hours of prayer. My process involves ritual and meditation. It is a counterpoint outside the cloister to the balance of work and prayer which comprises the daily lives of monastic communities throughout the world. I find inspiration in readings from various faith traditions and practices such as yoga, prayer, silence and guided meditation. I use such methods to become an instrument through which the work might flow from a greater force than me alone.

Landscapes have been abstracted from closely cropped figure drawings to symbolize the interconnectedness of all things in life and their relationship to the divine. Humans are of the earth itself, live best when we are in harmony with the land, and ultimately our physical bodies will return to it. Textures and brushstrokes are kept minimal to suggest a stillness and meditative quality as would be found during a moment in prayer. Both light and color have long associations with spirituality. For this reason the luminosity that oil paint can bring to a work makes it my media of choice.

From medieval manuscripts to Byzantine icons, gold leaf has been used to signify the importance and sacredness of images and texts. My  use of gold is meant to point the viewer to the sacred aspects in nature, man and that spark residing in all of it. Like the Amish quilts with their intentional mistake in a block, I am the less than perfect human instrument, not the higher power, in this creation.  Therefore the choice of the more humble gold paint instead of real leaf is a symbolic one on my part.

As with abstract artists in more recent times I consider the colors a part of this mystery as well. Painters such as Kandinsky and Rothko have used their colors intentionally to evoke a sense of the spiritual. Assigning particular attributes to individual hues or working intuitively with what felt right in their own soul, color, light and rich embellishments are all ways in which artists have tried to make visual reference to the divine unseen as they know it.

Incorporating the ancient symbolism of the circle (the divine) and the square (man), I am making a statement about the concept of the artist  co-creating with God. Working intuitively to create these depictions of space and time, I contemplate my place in this world and what may lie beyond it. At the same time, I want to convey the transcendent power and sense of mystical other which can come to us when we are truly in the present moment.

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As I am still in the thick of working on my masters at Savannah College of Art and Design, it has been over a year since I last posted on this blog.  But one the final assignments for the current course, Painting Studio II, is to post the final work for the term to a virtual gallery.  So I am “resurrecting” the site temporarily to fulfill my assignment here.  Once I am done this summer, I plan to resume many of the things I have had to set aside and perhaps this will be one of them.

For now I’ll be glad if I can remember how to navigate this site.

Original Pastel Drawings

The Liturgy of the Hours Original Pastel Drawings 3.5" x 5" each, pastel on Wallis paper

This little series of drawings was done nearly 2 years back when I started the journey at SCAD.  I decided to use it as the jumping off point for a body of work in the present course.  What resulted was a concentration on just two of the eight, which were Lauds and Vigils.  Lauds is the early morning hour near dawn and Vigils, also known as Matins or Nocturnes is in the middle of the night.   In a sort of meditation, I worked and sometimes re-worked the same subject over on different scales and in different media.

The Liturgy of the Hours: Lauds riginal drawing, 3.5" x 5", pastel on Wallis paper

The Liturgy of the Hours: Lauds original drawing, 3.5" x 5" pastel

Starting with the small original of Lauds, I began with the intention of translating all 8 to a larger scale as oils on canvas.  The first works were attempts to recreate the drawings as 24″ x 36″ oils on canvas.  On the right below, is the first Lauds, though it was subsequently re-worked again further on in the term.

The Liturgy of the Hours: Lauds

The Liturgy of the Hours: Lauds (24" x 36" oil painting)

Next I went back to my preferred medium of pastel and executed an 18″ x 24″ painting on a piece of Wallis board (Wallis sanded paper mounted to foamcore).  I found it interesting to go down in scale and back to a more familiar medium.  The techniques and style however are quite a stretch from what I usually do being more simplified and abstract with less mark making and texture.  The use of strong contour lines to define areas was also a challenge for me.  I felt very much like I was fighting with myself a great deal of the time with this project!

The Liturgy of the Hours: Lauds, pastel painting

Lauds, pastel painting, 18" x 24"

Originally I worked on both the Lauds and Vigils canvases concurrently.  Then as I began to work on and concentrate on one piece at a time, I began to think of them as presented  in a more linear fashion.  So after all of these different versions of Lauds we move to nightfall as it were and present the largest  and most recent piece in the series.

Oil on birch panel, 3 ft. x 4 ft.

The Liturgy of the Hours:Vigils ,Oil on birch panel, 3 ft. x 4 ft.

Moving backwards from the largest, is the pastel painting of the same which had been done just previous to this panel and then the re-worked orginal 24″ x 36″ oil on canvas version.

pastel painting, 18" x 24" on Wallis board

The Liturgy of the Hours: Vigils, pastel painting on Wallis board

Original oil on canvas, 24" x 36", rescraped and worked

The Liturgy of the Hours: Vigils, Original oil on canvas, re-worked

Last in line is the small pastel drawing that was the genesis of all these others.

pastel original drawing, 3.5" x 5" on Wallis paper

The Liturgy of the Hours: Vigils, pastel on Wallis paper, 3.5" x 5"

All the different versions have a common thread running through them but the variations of scale and the change of media yielded a great many different results.  While the success of each is certainly able to be debated and analyzed, the experience was worthwhile.  There were tremendous growing pains associated with the project but there does seem to have been tremendous growth and self-knowledge commensurate with it.

As I developed the work in the late half of the term, I returned to working on wood panel with oil which I had done the past two summers.  I also turned to the use of the tondo presentation once more which I had enjoyed experimenting with last July in Savannah for what I considered to be one of my most successful pieces.

From those experiences, I decided to further crop these two views within a circle and frame them inside a square of painted gold.  I called them simply the Day and Night tondi.

oil on panel, 2 ft. x 2 ft.

Day Tondo: Lauds, oil on panel, 2 ft. x 2 ft.

oil on panel, 2 ft. x 2 ft.

Night Tondo: Vigils, oil on panel, 2 ft. x 2 ft.

From here I am in the beginning stages of a larger series of panels such as these, perhaps on the theme of the Stations of the Cross.  My thought  is to somehow through cropping and abstracting to transcend landscapes of devastated areas of the world into object of reverence and beauty.

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