I have been giving time and thought each morning to the task that I have been given... to deliver a short talk to those invited to the vernissage this Saturday at the Kingston Glass Studio and Gallery. Kate has asked that I try to encapsulate my thoughts and ideas in preparing this exhibition on the agreed upon theme: On the River... A Homecoming. As well... she asked that I share my personal and artistic journeys and if possible .. to discuss my process and approach to my painting the landscape in particular.
In reflecting upon her requests... most of what was asked is hardly unusual for me to answer... because I am often asked about these aspects of my life Biography and geography provide answers to the River and Home Coming parts. I was born in Brockville on the banks of the Saint Lawrence and summered with my family for fifty odd years at "The Narrows" located between Tar Island and the mainland about a stone's throw eastward from Rockport. Hence the River is indeed... my true Home.
I have lived in Toronto briefly... with longer stays in nearby Camden East and Kingston. My travels have taken me to Nova Scotia for a six year stay and then up to the Georgian Bay area... before finally arriving ... "back at Go"! I have painted in all but one Canadian province (Newfoundland/Labrador)... Italy... all of the British Isles... Germany... the United States and the Caribbean. All of these richly beautiful and diverse places piqued and enriched my landscape painting interests.
However... it has always been my dream to come back to this area to finish up. Though my travels revealed untold beauty and adventure... I never felt better painting the landscape... than in this idyllic Thousand Island archipelago. It has been... and remains... the cradle of my spirit(s) - my Soul and my restless creative spirit.
In discussing the theme possibilities with Kate beforehand, I attempted to relate to her how my life and work had changed... rather recently and especially after moving back to Rockport. Even my concept of what constitutes a landscape has changed drastically. As with all of us... we are taught and conditioned socially to adopt certain realities and perspectives in order to communicate and operate within the parameters of the group that we live... and play with. The same holds true with art education.
Much of my life has been spent playing with... and being in the company of young people. I believe that in so doing... I have been reluctant to assume or cave in to social pressure. I haven't lost my joy ... or my desire to "get down and play". I have always been an independent learner throughout my life... and have encouraged and enabled that goal and choice with the people... young or old that I choose to share time with.
At this point... to make this too long story... short as was my intention... I will cut to the chase.
The most striking change that I discovered in my introspective moments... was that landscape need not merely imply... as we are taught to believe.. an interpretation of impression of a part of the natural world about us. It can be viewed and painted in terms of other equally valid perspectives.
Landscape paintings can be made... even created, be focused and attributed as cultural or heritage landscapes. These paintings tend to focus upon man's influence and his use of the natural landscape. That can include significant architecture... and even people actively engaged in specifically related activity.
A third kind of landscape, in my opinion depicts a spiritual landscape. Such landscapes evoke a spiritual connection and can even be constructed and manipulated to exact a spiritual connection with the viewer. These landscapes can take the forms of figure drawings... still life subjects based upon related inanimate objects... or again focus on the natural landscape in a mystical way... or the responsibility for assuming stewardship.
No matter which form of landscape a painter chooses to paint... he or she is attempting to establish a conversation with the viewer... using a painting as a narrative device. That attempt, or opportunity to establish such a conversation is always preceded by a prior conversation that commences internally within the artist in response to the outward stimulus from the Muse.
I maintain that an artist only presents his... or her finest art when it has its origin within and is fueled by passion and a compulsion to share the experience. To me... Art is yet another Voice... one which is just as expressive and valid as the spoken voice. I would add... that this second voice is more powerful as a tool to encourage conversation... simply because it allows freedom of interpretation and response... without judgement.
I feel that my collection of twenty paintings for this exhibition includes samples of each interpretation that I have put forward. I feel that they reveal an introspective look inside me to reveal how I feel and think about the world I live in...in terms of Today... and Yesterday... in my own journey. A couple of the paintings that I have chosen to include which belong to me clearly demonstrate the breadth of my own unique journey.
While my art is in no way unique... or let's say innovative in itself... it is none the less totally unique because... like you, I created it with my mind and hands. I did so to share it with others. Withoput my actions... that voice could not be heard. Those are the Metrics upon which I base my success as a painter. Even this blog is based upon this same creative template - sharing ideas in a safe and encouraging forum. I truly hope that this is so... and that you feel free to comment and share your own ideas.
If I can lay claim to any notion of being unique... perhaps it lies in the great fortune I have been blessed to have been given. I have been able to integrate Art into my family... teaching and creative lives... so that scarcely a day has passed that I couldn't involve myself in some way with my passion and a pursuit of Art. I have been greatly blessed...
Good Painting... and Happy Spring... to ALL!!!!
PS Here are some samples of this week's small Spring "landscaping" projects. You decide in which category I might have been working! HA HA!! Enjoy!
"Spring... Is Just Around the Corner" - oil on cradle board panel 8 x 10 inches
"Sap's a' runnin!... Full Steam Ahead!" - oil on cradle board panel 8 x 10 inches