My early work in landscapes is expressionist—bright and warm, filtered through my perception at the time, probably crossed with optimism or desire—while later work in abstract landscapes is more subtle or darker or both.
…we cannot grasp and hold on to beauty. We can only “have” it through completely releasing ourselves to it.
Many of my landscapes explore the subjective experience of colour in landscape. These paintings are as bright as the landscapes appear in my mind. Pictures don’t quite capture the vibrancy we experience when tuned in to nature. It gives us an energetic calm.
This reminds me of the poem “The Fish” by Elizabeth Bishop. The speaker catches a huge fish that has a number of hooks with cut or snapped ends of line still hanging from its mouth. This fish has been caught and escaped, caught and released again and again. She sees these hooks with their lines “Like medals with their ribbons/ frayed and wavering,/ a five-haired beard of wisdom/ trailing from his aching jaw.” As she observes the fish, its beauty becomes ecstatic. She reaches a sort of climax as the poem comes to a close:
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels—until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.Elizabeth Bishop, “The Fish”
Even something as ugly as an old fish with hooks hanging out of its mouth is ecstatically beautiful if we look with eyes to see. The experience is complete as the speaker “let the fish go.” The letting go, a divine sort of calm, is one with the ecstasy, demonstrating that we cannot grasp and hold on to beauty. We can only “have” it through completely releasing ourselves to it. In this sense, the speaker becomes “caught” by the fish as she surrenders both it and herself to the experience.
In the first painting below, even a rainy day can be an ecstatic balance of sweet calm and brilliance.
Nature doesn’t always look this bright to me. In fact, I’ve become more interested in subtleties of colour, shades, and dark, which you will see in the abstract work below.
Abstract Landscapes (new work)
A new form I’m exploring is the combination of landscape and abstract, again aiming to portray subjective experience by emphasizing certain aspects of the “view”, like interconnection, symmetry, balance, and subtle/ rich colour contrast. Unlike much of my prior abstract work, which is completely conceptual (from the mind, not a picture or reference), here I work from images. Some pieces bear close resemblance to the landscape images. Others go further with the abstract, exploring more abstract senses of movement, mood, and associations.
I’m currently working in this abstract style, taking commissions. If you’d like your own, please feel welcome to contact me.