“Inspiration Point” is the theme for this year’s Stormy Weather Festival at the Dragonfire Gallery in Cannon Beach, OR. I loved this theme because it got me to actually focus on what inspires me and put it into words. I've always known that painting is a spiritual act and that what is coming out of me comes from deep inside and is very soul-filled. But taking the time to shine a light on this inner reality and write about it revealed to me the extent of the internalized data that is held inside. I was actually a bit surprised at the importance of history and global experiences and relationships, even on small simple little paintings like these three. All three are based on scenes from the two trips to Europe I enjoyed in the past year and were painted especially for “Inspiration Point”. Here’s my Artist Statement for that show:
I travel. A lot. I take a great many photos on these trips and they are my treasures. I spend my days absorbing all the visual information, viewing angles and capturing compositions. An advantage of digital photography is that I can edit and crop and enhance the photos while I am still on the trip. So each day becomes a mosaic of the photos I took that day, a memory collage of that day’s experiences. I’ll never be able to paint all of the photos, but when I do paint one, it’s like I get to travel back in time and place. When I paint, I’m often in a meditative state, so it’s a bit of an altered reality. When I paint one of these trip photos, I get to relive the experience back at that moment and in that place. I’m aware that I’m in my own studio, but at the end of the day, I feel like I’ve just returned from some distant land.
In “Aegean Sunlight”, the time travel takes me to Mykonos, Greece, in October 2014. Mykonos is a wind-swept town on a small island of the same name. On Mykonos it’s all about the sky and the water and the wind. The palette is dominated by 3 colors: white buildings and windmills, blue sky, blue sea, and blue and red doors and stairs and domes. The painting captures for me the essence of my day there: the warmth of the sunlight, the warm blue of the sky, the cool blue of the shadows on the white building, the red dome, the layers of color in the stucco revealing years of wind-swept history. I painted it from a single photo reference but the inspiration came from the dynamic beauty of this historic, light-filled village and its remarkable natural setting.
In “Italian Cypress”, the time travel takes me back to a day in May 2015. We spent the day exploring the Val d’Orcia in the heart of Tuscany. We visited beautiful hill towns, ancient Roman baths, medieval villages, a Romanesque abbey, a Renaissance garden, a picturesque 15th Century chapel, vineyards and poppy fields. It was, for me, the best day of a seven-week trip. Actually, one of the best days of my life. This tiny painting captures four of the dominant features of that day: the sky, the light, the sculptural Tuscan hills, and the cypress trees. I loved the cypress trees! Each one has its own personality and heroic stature. It’s a simple little painting, but it has a huge backstory. I painted it using a single photo as reference, but the inspiration came from all the beauty and history that filled that entire magical day.
In “Village in Tuscany”, the time travel takes me to a tiny 15th Century village in Tuscany. Montegabbro. We had the pleasure of staying there for a week in a restored stable rented from a handsome young man whose family had owned much of the property for centuries. His mother was born upstairs and there is an 11th Century stone chapel that the family still uses for an annual Mass and celebration every spring. Parts of the village are still uninhabitable – stone structures with no windows or roofs. The village is sited in a breathtaking landscape with 360 degree views and a mile long cypress lined driveway. I loved it so much I probably took 500 photos, although I forced myself to edit that down to half. This tiny painting shows the approach to the village and its cypress-lined driveway across a plowed field and with Tuscan hills hazy in the distance. In painting it, I not only got to travel to that week in May, 2015, but I also was inspired by the generations of the families who have inhabited it for the past 900 years.