Archives for interpretations
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
As someone soon to be facing how to paint a large desert sky spread across a large desert panorama, I’m circling the question of the possibilities available.* The Goldwell Foundation, where I’ll be painting,locates itself physically near Beatty, Nevada, on the northwest region of the Basin and Range country, 8 miles and one mountain range from Death Valley. I’ve done lots of small studies there. Now I’m contemplating the Big One. Desultorily contemplating…..
I have no theories, only pictures.
In a few months, I’ll be back in Nevada, tackling the Amargosa Playa again. This time I want to do a set of painted panels, five 5×5 foot ones (25 horizontal feet). I have various notions of how this might work out in paint, but will have to wait until I get there to see what actually happens. I also want to do something similar in textiles, perhaps only some preliminary image making, saving stitching for when I return to Portland. But I am mulling over both projects in my mind, trying to think how I might work them.
I just read a blog entry (dated August 17) by Jenny Bowker, who is an art colleague who works in quilted textiles. She tackled the same kind of landscape and had the same kind of hopes about what she might evoke, with some additions that the Amargosa doesn’t have: the presence of a handsome driver and some marvelous land forms. Her blog entry, which finishes with the photo of her textile work, is worth reading for sheer pleasure. But it makes me somewhat nervous about my ambitions.
Here’s the photo of Jenny’s artwork, which won a prize at the Canberra quilt exhibit and, I’m sure, will be seen often at other places around the globe.
Jenny Bowker, Sandstorm over the White Desert, about life size (see her blog entry for scale)
And here is an photo or two of what I will be facing, again
I feel as if I have been away forever. Life overtook my Art and Perception, although not completely my art and not completely all my perceptions.
So here’s an update.
After a long struggle with health and painting, I’ve finally revived and have been painting the landscapes of the Willamette Valley in western Oregon. The change of venue from the wild and awesome desert to the gentle scenery of the Valley was fairly traumatic and also the cause (I think; I hope) of some really bad paintings, now discarded. But I’ve kept a few and think I may be able to tolerate the pretty landscapes and conventional views to which I’ve been subjected. (I’m engaged with a group of plein air artists who always choose not to paint the snarky or sardonic.)
The paintings imaged below have been done since the end of June. The first four (through the Storm) were attempts to provide a sense of expansion outward rather than focusing into the painting. This outward away from the center is what I feel the desert does, and I thought painting sky and/or water might keep me in touch with that expansion of space so essential to desert painting.
Morning Fog in the Gorge, 12 x 16″, Oil on board, 2009
Title: Running Free
Size: 102×127 cm
Medium: Oil on canvas