Monday, August 5, 2013

Invisible Structure

And now to spill the beans...

One of the magical aspects of producing a painting is the artist's unique view... the product's invisible structure. Intentionally or not, we are all influenced by the activities that happen within and around us, but no one can guess at these influences except the curious mind of the individual involved him/herself. Life is too abstract for one to know the motivations of another.

We might wake up in the morning feeling light and wholesomely airy, or maybe instead heavy with a headache caused by allergens floating in the open night window. Our day will unfold under the structure of these physical influences. While passing a restaurant window and seeing a couple lean forward with moon eyes we might feel elation of spirit or instead the despair of loneliness. If a large dog runs toward us we might suffer fear that shakes us to the core, or perhaps laugh in joy at the bounding mass of animal energy.

When I look at "A Quiet Letter," below, I can find quite a few invisible structural influences behind those wandering pastoral lines. They are all unique to me but speak for the masses.
  • The underbrush that I loved to crawl in as a child, and saw mowed down by territorial tractors.
  • Southwestern cliffs that felt alive with history as I traveled through.
  • The magnificence of the meeting of the wild Calif. coastal mountains crashing down to meet the expansive plain of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Endless horizons found within cloud formations, the silver linings left over from the depression era.
  • Remembrance/thoughts of children who would practice at being soldiers, and then one day find themselves unable to write the truth home to Mother.
  • A faith that female energy holds some solace.
  • The quest for wisdom that unites humanity world-wide.
  • The acknowledgement that humans are on a historical, cyclical trajectory that informs and defines us as complex human beings.
Whenever any artist creates a work, no matter in which style, the complexity of that person's worldly experience helps build the structure behind each piece of art, from the most simple, to the most concrete, to the most obscure. Whether we relate to the art that we see is a matter of personal taste, but the invisible and unique structure stands, regardless of the audience.

Other artists emerging from my childhood playground, doing it their own way:

Erin Gafill
Sarah Healey
Celia Sanborn
The Bradfords siblings:
      (And soon to be Tal, just beginning to find a visual voice.)

A book that describes a rugged Big Sur childhood somewhat similar to that of most of the above artists can be found in the words of Nancy Hopkins, published in the book "These are My Flowers", edited by her daughter, Heidi Hopkins.

My childhood was a bit more civilized, being born to a world half in and half out of the wilderness.
The local elder artist that most influenced me from that youthful era was quite a designer (not my forte) but influence me he did. Emile Norman. All that attention to detail, the blending of man and nature, the determination to do his art his own way, no matter what.