There Are No Words

There Are No Words

Talking about my paintings is sometimes difficult. Much of the painting process is intuitive. It’s like a homing device - seeking out the location of that essential non-verbal thing I’m aiming to express or create - a paintable thing, not a sayable thing. The painting is not rooted in words. Words are applied after the fact. Of course techniques are explainable, but when it comes to subtle presences, whether aesthetic, spiritual or conceptual, it is obvious that artists create unspeakable things. But the art itself speaks to us - it stirs us up and we strain to explain in our own language. After the fact of creating, words used to describe certain elements are often vague expressions which circle around the outside of the target, never quite hitting it - never quite naming the thing. Even professional art critics are outside the mystery, looking in. I have read both wonderfully insightful, revealing art commentary as well as contorted “art-speak” where the critic seems to be inventing reality. (The Rape of the Masters by Roger Kimball is an informative and entertaining resource on that topic.) But ultimately a painting can’t be said. So do I even want to talk about my art? Well, I do and I don’t. It may actually be a useful exercise for me to attempt to name something of where I’ve been in my work to perhaps inform my way forward.  It can add a bit of conscious choice in the flow of creating rather than operating wholly on a subterranean intuitive plane. As long as it doesn’t foster distracting self-consciousness, that could be a good thing. In addition, I do sincerely appreciate those who are interested...
Sketchbook 4/18/13

Sketchbook 4/18/13

My sketch today (charcoal, ink, conte crayon and gouache on paper) is a simple study of a cluster of blackberries with stem and leaves.  This image conveys a summery, sunny feel hinting at outdoor walks and gathered things. But it can also be viewed a little more pensively as the cluster contains some lighter colored, sour, unripe fruit along with the dark, sweet, ripe berries - while off to one side a quiet little shell sits alone. In keeping with that pensive tone (but with an entirely different thought), the following Emily Dickinson poem on the subject of blackberries seemed to be an interesting accompaniment to today’s sketch. The Black Berry - wears a Thorn in his side – The Black Berry - wears a Thorn in his side – But no Man heard Him cry – He offers His Berry, just the same To Partridge - and to Boy – He sometimes holds upon the Fence – Or struggles to a Tree – Or clasps a Rock, with both His Hands – But not for Sympathy – We - tell a Hurt - to cool it – This Mourner - to the Sky A little further reaches - instead – Brave Black Berry – Emily...
Of Peanuts and Gooseberries

Of Peanuts and Gooseberries

        “When I was young, I said to God, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the universe.’ But God answered, ‘That knowledge is for me alone.’ So I said, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.’ Then God said, ‘Well George, that’s more nearly your size.’ And he told me.” - George Washington Carver This quote from George Washington Carver, famed American scientist and botanist, illustrates a wonderful truth: there is great mystery, beauty and value even in the smallest of God’s creations. There was a time when I tackled grander themes in my painting, but I have been happy and challenged to take on the “smaller” subjects in my current work. Our lives are typically so full and flooded by various stimuli that I find it nurturing and calming to focus intently on the small and lovely - and to find, even there, the magnificent evidence of God’s hand. The painting pictured here, Gooseberries in White Bowl, explores the glorious within the simple - and in addition, it’s “more nearly my...
Only A Few

Only A Few

 One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few.                                                                            –Anne Morrow Lindbergh Our quest for simplicity, both external and internal, is ongoing. Within the complexity of schedules, task lists and general life clamor, there is an enduring yearning for the uncomplicated. Being selective is helpful when our senses become overwhelmed and numbed, when too much is before us or in us. Likewise, when creating or viewing art, what is excluded or included matters. In the painting Three Shells on Stone Table, my goal was to create a private, quiet space to take in the elegant beauty of three lone seashells in the light. The simple subject and the precise details draw us to the painting. The focused light magnetizes the image further, pulling us in. Paradoxically, it takes effort to rest. As viewers of art, once we do what is necessary to shut the door on external noise, we may then encounter  internal clutter which also must be pushed aside for a time. Of course, as individuals, we bring our own associations and preferences to the viewing experience, but we benefit by looking and listening as neutrally as possible. C.S. Lewis wrote: “The first demand any work of art makes upon us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way. (There is no good asking...