Sunday, June 7, 2015 7:57am
Layers and simplifying in the search for essence continues to be the driving force of my current studies.
I think a lot about how what I see speaks to me. The thoughts stimulated by the work of early modernists like John Marin. In them, I see a mind manipulating the scene at hand. Applying filter after filter of personal experience–plumbing information, thought, art and technique.
When I was younger, these things did not occur to me. I was building my own reserves from which I can now see and understand these things. I use this skill set to see hidden shapes, referential elements–the visual story behind the view from places like my breakfast table at the Comfort Inn in Salt Lake City. No. I was not moved by the beauty of the view–but I was driven to create. The space away from my regular routine provided the room for seeing, thinking, and feeling about what I see. The very presence of mountains gave my mind a visual focal point. No matter how straggly or average in comparison to others, they are significant in what they are–mountains.
Finding your own artist’s voice among those who have been similarly impressed and influenced by nature, talent, and the giants that created before us–that is some task. I’m not sure that there is any way to know the true meaning of your work except in how accurately it captures the “voices” in your head. For me, the voice has often been purely a drive to create–to see how inspiration materializes. Unlike many other artists with whom I’ve talked, I often do not see the piece finished in my head. Sometimes, I see something that inspires me–that moves me to work. Many times this is the land. I pull out watercolors and paper and the flow begins without analysis or plan–it just flows. Sometimes, I see something that triggers an idea. And tools, techniques or medium lead the process. And, sometimes, like in Salt Lake City, a concept or philosophy partners in the process and results in a series of experiments and conclusions that are not verbally defined but intellectually and creatively recognized. Regardless of the impetus, I am driven to create–to produce a voice for a visual statement and there is some push or pull that engages me in a the need to say something unsaid.
There is no real choice in doing it. There is only a drive. And, when it’s done–there is a knowing and, as in speech, there can be a satisfaction in having found the right “words,” the poetic “phrase,” the eloquent “composition.” A “perfect” expression that is as surprising to me as it is to the people who see it after. The mountain and catalpa exercises have been that kind of experience for me.