The past couple of years have been a time of significant shifts. Most notably, my partner and I now own 34 acres of woods protected in a land trust on a ridge in the Finger Lakes region. Over the past few years we’ve cultivated a mile or more of paths through the property. With lots of walking and the help of rudimentary survey maps, GPS, and digital photographs taken from a drone, we have come to know the possibilities of this land.
Over time and the seasons, we’ve cultivated pathways that highlight the area’s natural beauty. We’ve also created a gravity-fed water system because a well is not allowed. The images from the technology influenced the paintings “A Map of Getting Lost” and “Finding a Way Home.” My interest in line led to creating webs of curved grids that act as regions of texture with paint squeezed from a dropper and guided by gravity. The paintings could be seen as aerial views of zones or expanses among layers of glazes punctuated with small geometric shapes and a few hard lines. With these paintings, the process becomes the journey which becomes the image.
My fascination with rocks, pebbles, and nature’s textures can be found throughout the Pilgrim series. These paintings continue to investigate surface, shape, texture and composition. The juxtaposition of the forms convey both the strength and fragility of relationships and suggest connections and proximity.
An overriding theme in this and other work created recently is the exploration of formal elements in painting to convey a sense of place and movement through time and space.
After a break from painting, I started back up and these were the first three paintings--”North Clearing,” “South Clearing” and “West Clearing.” The palette is pared down to avoid the distraction of color. Each piece is composed of dark forms, land masses perhaps, set against a textured white surface. The masses float off to the sides, presenting a cleared space from which to start again.
Hiking through woods and fields intensified my fascination with line and this became evident in the paintings North Trail, East Trail and West Trail. These works were executed in late 2016 and early 2017, a time when the national political landscape shifted dramatically and I found myself in a dark place. In general, I’m a positive person and don’t respond to fear but the theme of fear seemed to pervade. In a 2007 interview with Border Crossings magazine, Sean Scully notes, “I think that my struggle is more with the world than with painting. I’m very affected by all the things that go on in the world that are not right. It makes me very, very sorrowful. And I bring all that to the painting.” Though I didn’t realize it at the time, these paintings present a vast dark space with shadowy floating organic forms—new forces of command. Light peaks through scratches and the darkness gives way to a bright thick line of color, suggesting the necessity of hope in dark times.
My fascination with rocks, pebbles, and nature’s pathways can be found in the paintings “Tracks,” “Stacked,” and “The Path Forward.” These pieces were inspired by the idea of pathways and our desire to create personal access when coming into new territory. Whether created by animals or humans, pathways provide a sense of familiarity which is calming. The painting “Midway” continues the exploration of line, gravity, and symmetry. The painting “Nearing” has a a more static quality, as we sometimes slow down when nearing a destination. In the painting “Landing,” the light and dark areas oppose each other, separate but connected by a slender white line. The layered surface quality makes it seem like two land masses floating, anchored by the U shapes that frame the sides. After the clearing and exploring pathways, here’s where I landed. The painting “Knot” is playful. The looping line is a reflection of where I’ve been and how circular are steps can be when working on a project or preparing or fixing something.
I can’t seem to get away from the square format. Simple, clean, contemporary, the square allows me to turn the substrate in the initial stages while bringing the image into being through process. It’s like pealing an onion. Backwards. These pieces are 12” x 12” acrylic on wood panel.
Off the Road
These small acrylic on canvas paintings are inspired by what I see on my daily walk-runs through the neighborhood. I noticed I tend to look down at the road rather than to look out. Maybe it’s because I tripped on uneven pavement and took a rough spill severla years ago.. At any rate, I love the mix of the textures of pavement with the graphics of municipal indicators. Like old buildings with good graffiti, there’s so much beauty in the mundane.
These 24” x 24” acrylic on panel paintings incorporate some of the natural imagery of rocks and stones from other series but they are more graphic and playful.
These pieces don’t yet fit neatly into a series. They may become part of a series depending on how it goes…