Study in Grey
acrylic on masonite
12" x 12"
There was an inherent tyranny that I was experiencing with the imitation of nature. Representational landscape painting involves the creation of illusion, for which I would devote a lot of time and energy, when what I most enjoyed was the discovery of colours that I was seeing for the first time. I loved to nail that particular colour chord of moving water or, capture the grey, mustard coloured grasses in a meadow on a November day. Another thing that I valued was the subject matter itself. creating the illusions of my subject matter perhaps let the viewer know what I cared about but it did not sufficiently express how I felt.
During 2019 and 2020 I chose to paint the urban canopy which left me free to roam city parks and Muskoka woods to find trees to pay homage to. I came to realize though, that the specificity of my tree illusions were not mattering to me. The deep feelings I had for the land, the growth of the forest, the interactions of the weather and the responses I was inwardly having with these specific place experiences mattered very much. However, what was emerging was the greater confidence in painting as a language in itself - the tactile quality of the paint, the magnificence of one particular colour aside another, or the truncation of some colour values in order to produce profound light effects. As I experienced my surroundings my own being connected involuntarily, with what was visually before me, regardless of its beauty or ugliness, in the conventional sense of those words. It was rather my visual lexicon emerging.
Currently I live and work in Victoria, British Columbia. We are right in the centre of town and although I was attracted to BC for her great forests, it has been the physical re-orientation of my surroundings that has informed my painting during the first few months. A geographical move requires the development of new knowledge in direction, atmosphere, weather patterns, human patterns, the new nature of light and shadow etc., The emerging abstract work is an evolving response to these changes.
I have not been working in a vacuum. Prior to arriving in Victoria I engaged the mentorship of Bill Porteous for a new orientation to work in abstraction. My online sessions with Bill have provided me with a means to systematically discover motifs and methods that best reflect the visual language I am facilitating. It feels right to be delving deeply into these discoveries.
Ironically, in working with abstraction I am not abandoning the subject but I am internalizing it. I do not seek to represent but the awareness of the subjects of my thoughts and feelings are finding their way into the layers of colour that I choose to veil or disclose.