As a teacher, lover of nature, student of literature, traveler, and constant gardener, I'm drawn to painting subjects that almost deconstruct water, sky, earth, and, on occasion, a few characters taken from fiction. Regardless of subject, the world I attempt to re-create (largely working with oils en plein air and in my studio) involves my own personal perceptions--the sum total of my life experience thus far, not to mention whatever I might be thinking or feeling during those moments when my hand sweeps brush strokes across the canvas.
I always work with this concept of personal perception in mind. I'm not sure why, but I think it has something to do with the fact that I'm fascinated by how one's perception of the world affects the manifestation of his/her art. Case in point: Van Gogh's "Starry Night" as compared to Mannon Cleary's "Skyscape". Like the particle scientist who witnesses how nature actually changes (at the quantum level) when it detects that it is being observed, the world I paint--what I choose to paint and how I choose to paint it-- is colored by my own perceptions.
OK, so given this little obsession of mine, I tend to work with oil. I love its ability to be either muted or vibrant, as well as the flexible way it can be handled. I also tend to work with an impressionist's focus on how light, shadow, and color can be pushed just beyond reality. After all, when we process beauty and feel inspired by the experience, doesn't that beauty take on richer dimension in our minds?
Ultimately, my goal is to create paintings that capture those moments when we stop what we are doing because, for whatever reason, life reveals its extraordinary beauty to us for our own private viewing or rumination--sometimes quite unexpectedly. Maybe this happens on a trip to France--while you're walking through a small town and happen upon a middle-aged women sitting on a chair in a small restaurant, waiting for someone, completely lost in thought. There's something exquisitely beautiful about her face in that moment, although you could never articulate exactly what it is. Or maybe it happens during a trip to the corner supermarket. You're standing in the check-out line, and you suddenly become mesmerized by the bright red cigarette cartons--the ones just behind the check-out lady--because a ray of sunlight just happens to be streaming through the window, hitting them at an angle in a way that makes the color look like it's going to jump off each box.
As I write these words they feel trivial--probably because the world seems to be spinning out of control just now. Perhaps this (more than anything else) is what compels me to create art that might remind someone to pause for a moment, to take a deep breath, and to appreciate the beauty of life that still surrounds us everywhere and every day, no matter what. I truly believe that if we embrace the idea that the world we see before us is colored by our own perceptions, we can choose to see beauty. We don't have to always make that choice, of course. Probably shouldn't--and most especially not always in art. But at the end of the day, to see beauty is to feel love, and love, after all, heals everything.
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