During the past year I spent some months experimenting with media such as metal leaf, pondering making sculptural constructions, and painting the figure model. But when it came time to settle down and choose a theme for my next show at Fountainhead Gallery, I was pulled back to painting sea, sky and rock. As I point out in my artist’s statement, this subject matter, while representational, is contemplative and lends itself to minimalism, manipulations of composition and experimentation with color.
I have admired the work of Vija Celmins, whose highly rendered drawings of the surface of the sea are impressive technically and conceptually. I was challenged to do my version, the result being “Deep Blue”, 30” x 40”, with a large sea surface and a high horizon line. As a companion, I composed “Traversing the Unknown”, a seascape with a low horizon line and a massive cloud picking up varied colors of the setting sun. I don’t like to repeat myself; I tend to proceed in a theme and variation manner when composing new works.
In 2006 my husband and I toured the Galapagos Islands for a week in one of the smaller available tourist boats and were properly impressed by the primordial scenery and wildlife. The islands were composed of jagged outcroppings of volcanic rock, and the birds and animals were unafraid of humans. We were able to get close to the iconic giant tortoises, sea lions, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies and even nesting albatross. The Ecuadorian government has established policies to reduce the impact of current tourism and to ameliorate damage from past exploitation. I carried a little sketchbook and watercolor set along with my camera and captured a small portion of the wonderful experience, but had not made use of any of the images until recently. Having made a painting of a rugged part of the Olympic Peninsula coast for my exhibit last year, I continued with three based on scenes of rocks jutting from the sea in the Galapagos. I recall one particularly thrilling dawn, when our boat sailed through a narrow passage between two towering spires.
Also in this show is a painting of an iguana isolated on a tiny island of rocks (Realm, 32” x 26”). I chose a green (land) variety of iguana for my protagonist; the marine variety are phenomenally ugly.
Having created several compositions of rocks surrounded by sea, for the last painting I finished for the show, I chose to depict water surrounded by rock. In some parts of our world, the coasts are being inundated by rising seas, in others drought is leaving precious little water. A location I visited in Iceland in 2011 provided a good illustration of this—a deep crater in the rocky, treeless terrain, filled with a mysterious pool of water. I added one of the hardy Icelandic ponies to the scene (Iceland Eye, 30” x 24”).
This describes a few of the ten paintings in “Vistas”, which will be on view at the Fountainhead Gallery, 625 W. McGraw St., Seattle, from June 2 to 25, 2016. Also exhibiting are Jennifer Frohwerk with narrative interior scenes and still life artist Beth Flor. There will be an artists’ reception open to the public on Saturday, June 4, from 5 to 7 p.m., and all are invited.
6/1/2016 06:45:40 am
So wish I could come.
6/5/2016 09:17:24 pm
I really appreciate your story and look forward to seeing your work. Penny and I missed the opening but plan to view your show later this week. It sounds entrancing.
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