I’m back in Portland, Oregon, from my six-week Nevada sojourn. But I haven’t unpacked my big linen canvases yet. I am almost afraid to do so, fearing that they are completely banal, hence total failures (banality is worse for me than bad).
In part, this reluctance has to do with various coming home challenges — burst pipes, unreliable contractors, relatives using the house in unexpected and unnerving ways. But in part, it’s simply because I don’t know what I did, although I am fairly certain I did not manage to un-orient, and my feeble attempts merely feel like they may be so feeble as to look feeble-minded.
Well, you see where I am. I began last February and March, 2009, living with the desert and Beatty, Nevada, painting small masonite panels, getting to know the territory and its inhabitants. This November sojourn, however, was more limited and almost entirely devoted to the Amargosa, which became more and more fascinating as I spent 6-8 hours a day, alone with the scene, for the full month of November.
So here are photos of the seven panels, plus the full panorama. These were taken as the panels were still on the wall of the Red Barn, under under limited lighting conditions. The exception is the full panorama, which was lit andphotographed by professional photographer, David Lancaster.
I am showing these in part to bolster my own sense of dignity and/or bravado.
Unoriented Amargosa (panel 1, east), 4′ x 5′, oil on linen, 2009
Unoriented Amargosa (panel 2, east), 4′ x 5′, oil on linen, 2009
Unoriented Amargosa (panel 3, east), 4′ x 5′, oil on linen, 2009
Unoriented Amargosa (panel 4, central), 4′ x 5′, oil on linen, 2009
Unoriented Amargosa (panel 5, west), 4′ x 5′, oil on linen, 2009
Unoriented Amargosa (panel 6, west), 4′ x 5′, oil on linen, 2009
Unoriented Amargosa (panel 7,west), 4′ x 5′, oil on linen, 2009
Let me assure you that I’m not looking for compliments. Sympathy maybe, but not false reassurances <snort>
What I will be working out this winter, I believe, is the nature of the horizontal. How much of it can be conveyed, how much of it needs color to work, what scale makes the power and fearful nature of the horizontal apparent? What media can be both intriguing and yet horizontal? How do verticals interrupt the horizontal and are they the only way to convey a sense of space?The problems of scale, color, and vertical interruptions are predominate in my mind as I try sussing out where I need to start.
You see, I’m already to start a new set of propositions, without having the courage to deal with the old. But only out of the old could come the new, so it’s probably OK.
And just for laughs, I’m also including the photo that David Lancaster, the professional photographer on the Goldwell Open Air Museum Board, took of me. It was taken in the waning sun hours, and David had a strobe light that allowed him to photograph me from below, directly in front of the sun. The strobe filled the front space, so I wasn’t just a silhouette. I kept hoping something similar could be done with the mountains, which required an extraordinary amount of vigilance to catch some relief, some sense of form and shape on as they were mostly just silhouettes against the desert sky. It was also David Lancaster who photographed the whole of the panorama, pictured below:
Unoriented Amargosa Panorama, 28′ x 5′, oil on linen, 2009 (photo by David Lancaster)
JOU, December, 2009. Take that, Universe!