Thursday, September 9, 2010

Santa Fe Exhibition

Reverie in Royal Greens, 2010, oil/panel, 40" x 40". (click to enlarge)

All summer long I have been painting works for my October 8th exhibition in Santa Fe, New Mexico at McLarry Fine Art.  This blog post presents the final four paintings for the show.  These will be shipped from my studio next week.

I began increasing the number of layers of paint and glaze at the end of 2009.  This is a more time consuming process, but yields a richer visual depth for viewers.  By the time of my Montreal show at mid-summer this year I had perfected the technique.  I was reward by the number of my 2010 paintings that sold quickly to Montreal collectors (almost everything sold).  

My challenge now is to manage the longer time periods required to finish a painting.  Planning shows means considering smaller numbers of paintings on the walls.  It also requires me to have more pieces in progress at the same time in my studio.  Since I also work at a Canadian College, budgeting my quality time towards studio work is not easy.

But the works are going well.  In "Reverie" above I composed a simple single tree.  This kind of composition can sometimes result in a "lame" boring painting.  But if the proportions among all the elements, colours, textures, light, and detail are "just right", the piece can really have presence.

Hidden Springs, 2010, oil/panel, 24" x 24".

This painting explores a recurring dream.  I often dream of water coming out of the ground.  The imagery can take many forms, from pastoral to scary (floods).  Springs seem to suggest a creative source in my life.  In this work I have added the play of light and dark, suggesting mystery and a hidden source for the flowing water that comes out of a shaded gully.

Buckthorn at Desert Flats (Morning Moon), 2010, oil/panel, 16" x 26".

My travels in the desert represent some of the most inspirational vistas for me.  It seems that the experience of vast open space, with a huge sky, detaches me from everyday reality.  I go into a "mental zone" of being without boundaries.  But I also take great interest in how this huge natural canvas frames the bits of living plants that survive in the harsh climate.  In order to live, these brushy plants spread out vast root systems that help to keep them separate from each other - again, emphasizing their unique properties. Thus, for me, these desert plants take on a sculptural form that is aesthetic. I always get down on my hands and knees to view these from "coyote height".  This POV increases my perception of the plant's mass and shape.  Finally, there is a metaphor that has meaning for me.  The idea of a tiny scrap of living shelter situated in a vast harsh deadly open eternity of sandy gravel.  I imagine myself, small, running under the plant's shade, looking out at the "big scary" and feeling a bit of safety.

Gamlino, 2010, oil/panel, 40" x 40".

The painting plays with how hazy skies can provide a lovely environment for presenting shapes and forms.  I've contrasted the detailed tree shapes / surfaces against the soft distance.  It's hard to see the subtle plays on a computer screen over the Internet, but if you get a chance to see this painting in person you will sense a kind of magic in the place.