I once heard a philosophy teacher define art as a re-creation of aspects of reality selected according to the artist's idea of what was truly important in the universe. I like that definition. It seems to hold true no matter what kind of art one is considering. There are artists and art critics who seem to think that any representational art, any recognizeable content in a painting, is simply copying and not "true art". There are those who say that excellent technique, and the choice of beautiful subject matter expressing a positive view of existence are "slick, smooth, and skin deep. . ." and seem to believe that they lack personal expression and intellectual depth.
I feel that it is unfortunate whenever art critics and especially teachers promulgate those views on a trusting audience. To think that the truly important things in the universe are dark, smeary, non-recognizeable by a human mind; and if recognizeable, only valuable if they portray ugliness, pain, and destruction is an indication that the artist, teacher, or critic lives in a different universe than the one I see.
I live in a universe filled with beauty, clarity, intensity of color and emotion; a universe where the self-discipline necessary to create excellence of technique and construction is a valuable character trait in a human. I live in a universe filled with wonder and joy; where darkness, pain, tragedy, and destruction exist, but only provide the contrasting blackness which makes the brilliant colors of joy more radiant.
Many years ago, when my children were small, I found a poster which expressed for me the way I approach life, and the way I approach my artwork. It showed a picture of a young boy in a field of daisies. He was bending over with his hands on his knees, looking at a flower, and the words on the poster were: "Stand still and look, until you really see."
Have you ever really looked at a flower? At a spider? At a face? When I choose what to paint there are several criteria which have to be met. The first, and most important is my emotional response to the subject. Perhaps that is why I do so many florals. I find flowers to be so incredibly beautiful they take my breath away and send me running for my camera. Small things, strawberries, a basket, an arrangement of cherries, a lace tablecloth, a silver sugarbowl, the face of a friend, these are the subjects of my paintings. A candle, a crystal, a book, a cloth, I arrange and photograph them in various lights and relationships.
Each painting usually takes me between one and two months to complete depending on the subject matter and size. I almost never paint landscapes, they're too huge. They overwhelm me. I paint the things I can see up close, where I can bend and look and stand still 'til I really see.
What I really like to do is to tell a story with a painting. Take "Inventory" for example. There was someone just there, reading and writing, with a cup of coffee near at hand. I don't know why they left just at that moment, but they haven't finished their task yet, so I'm sure they will be back.
In "Meditation", many of that persons special things, crystals, beads, mirrors, meditation book are collected in one place. I tried to create a spiritual atmosphere, with the candle lit and ready. Again, I don't know what called the person from their special place, but they'll be back.
"One of the First Fruits" is a picture of the product of my first u-pick strawberry excursion. I couldn't just eat them, they were so beautiful that year I had to immortalize them. They were also very delicious.
So the stories apply mainly to the still life paintings I've done. The florals express my visceral reaction to the beauty I see. Portraits, again, are my response to beauty and spirit. And fantasy paintings? I simply love dragons, and trolls, and faeries, and magic kingdoms and castles. It is very difficult to get any of those to hold still and have their photo taken (except perhaps for the castles), but I can't resist the attempt.
Over time I will add to the gallery, and add to this page. Thank you for reading this. I hope you understand more about why I paint what I paint the way I paint it.
"Nobody sees a flower really - it is so small,
we haven't time, and to see takes time,
like to have a friend takes time."
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