art and nature

| 11 September, 2014 10:55

I am sitting in my yard in a beautiful morning.  There are 7 rabbits around me quietly cleaning themselves after their morning feed.  These guys are my buddies and my neighborhood,along with the canyon towhee family (they are great parents), the doves and cardinals and goldfinches, hummingbirds etc, oh and toads beginning to burrough in the ditches. 

The noise from the only main street in west sedona is irritating and constant, trucks, cars, suicidal bycilists and a few pedestrians who dare to walk the sidewalks here, but that is another story.

My husband is a garden farmer and we have 10 foot high beans, beets, asparagus shoots, of course tomatoes eggplant, mint stalks and flowers for the bees and color.  the rabbits make great compost with their poop, my dog Sam rummages for the really powerful stuff they leave out on the ground, like after dinner desert. 

I am writing about this for several reasons.  To describe some of my environment to others,

and because this morning someone posted a question on the web 

if the purpose of art is supposed to imitation nature??? then...... please discuss.

 this is not the phrase as I remember it.

I believe Da Vinci said, and Im paraphrasing, the purpose of art is not to imitate nature but to recreate it. 

I often sit where I am now and take out my sketch book, drawing what I see, so I confess I have a multitude of sketches of bunnies and my husband watering or sleeping. 

the purpose for me of sketching is to keep my hand eye relationship in good practice, like playing scales and etudes on the violin. I also work plein air in watercolors and pencil or pen.  I love my time out in northern arizona painting. This keeps the lines and shapes loose and the mind eye flexible.  My experience says that tightening a line is much easier than loosening it.

and in truth I sometimes prefer looking at preliminary sketches of works, even the masters of painting, to the finished product. the sketches are often fresh and free of self judgement.  the lines themselves can speak to what is witnessed so faithfully, a moment depicted in one stroke. a shape slightly distorted by the movement of time in the eye of the viewer. 

  I am a nature fanatic, but I believe it is not possible to imitate nature.   I am not even sure what the word imitation means in this context. For me, leonardo's words are true, and I take them further, all artists recreate nature. That is what art does. For me the work recreate involves the viewer and the viewed in an almost unconscious collusion to create something unique.  Imitation has its own value, but it doesnt interest me in art. 

Whatever environment the artist is invoking, she is recreating something unique to her point of view.  I like to see what artists have to say for this reason,  with or without skill, that artist is  showing me a world from their point of view.

this is why a lot of nature paintings leave me disconcerted.  They could be painted by anybody and sometimes I think the purpose of the work is to prove skill at imitating what something should look like,  So for me the work often comes across as flat.  in my mind imitation of nature is impossible. we can imitate many things, but the complexity of light, time, decay, growth, wind are all rhythms impossible to be still, and our interpretation of these things is always changing.  It is natural law.

So, be fearless with line and color and trust that you  are seeing what is in the moment true! I say this to myself and all of us working on the canvas or paper.

Nature is always moving,  changing, and the art that depicts this  well is the art I want to see.



Imagining Amanda's Elephant

| 06 May, 2014 13:00

 there is a lot to be said for abstraction.  I find it frees the mind of constricting paths, allowing for motion to contradict expectations and come up with something familiar and effortless in appearance. and yet I love the form of realism, the richness of ideas that take common color and form and texture on a canvas. 

A teacher I respect a great deal once told me I would not make a living as an artist.  He was referring to my tendency to be easily influenced by external forces and therefore my goals in each work are very changeable. 

but what is the purpose of making a painting or a drawing? I am approaching the age where I no longer care if my work hangs in a gallery or is seen as relevant to someones ideas of art.  One thing is certain. I am running out of space to store large works, so small is getting better.

though I find the making of large abstractions satisfying, I am looking for that satisfaction in a smaller way. A 10 year old violin student of mine gave me the name of the above painting, my last large work for a while. 

She asked my why abstraction.  What is it and how is it done?  Great questions.