"The true painter strives to paint what can only be seen through his world." ~André Malraux

After a year of intermittant "painter's block"  I am working again in my studio, and feeling in a tentative positive state. Painting is a solitary activity, and as artists, we are often working in a vacuum. Unless we have a show hanging, reaction to the work is minimal. With several pieces underway, I decided that perhaps if I write about what I am doing or am attempting to do, it might act somewhat as a muse for me as well as give me some feedback on the work I am creating -- hence the establishment of this blog. 

As for the blog title, traditional, representational painting is a language for expressing what’s visible. But I feel my work is the most successful, and most interesting, when focused on things not entirely visible. I paint what I see but also what I sense and feel by utilizing my interior and unseen world --- in other words, the invisible world. Plein air work or  studio work from photographs are only touchstones or landmarks which guide me to other inner spaces. By so doing, I find that I am pushing the boundaries between representational and abstract work.

You can enlarge the images in this blog by clicking on them.

May 11, 2011

Arizona Highways

Until he died when I was 17, my grandfather lived with me, and my parents when I was growing up in Essex Fells, NJ. One of the things that endeared me to Pop, along with 1,000,000 other things about that dear man, was that he got a lot of great magazines which he shared with me ---  Saturday Evening Post, National Geographic, and Arizona Highways. I  remember sitting in a big comfy chair in the living room of our tall-ceiling-ed old house, pouring over the slick covered magazines, especially the beautiful photographs in AH of what looked like cowboy-land to me --  full of cactus and red, gold and purple rock formations, desert blooms, Native Americans -- and hoping that someday I would get to see it.

Well, it took me 60 odd years, but I finally got there. My husband and I spent a week in Sedona, AZ in red rock land to celebrate my birthday. We had a stupendous time amidst the magical rocks and high desert country. I did not paint while there, but took a lot of photos -- I have been ruminating over how to attempt to translate this glory of color, form and texture onto canvas.

We walked among these monoliths on the Broken Arrow Trail (Jeep access only)

Schnebley Hill Road if you can call it a road had magnificent views
Almost more amazing to me was the day we spent among the Sinaguan Indian ruins, cliff dwellings, and rock sites where they lived over a thousand years ago.The Sinaguas were excellent weavers and successful farmers, occupying the area of central Arizona between Flagstaff and Sedona from 700 - 1400AD, when a drought may have forced them to leave their pit house villages and cliff-side dwellings. Thus the name Sinagua, or sin agua, Spanish for “without water”. However, they are still among us, having blended with the Hopi, Mogollon and Pueblo peoples. These drawings are located within what they believe was a ceremonial fire pit under a rock roof. I stood there with just a few other people gazing at them, and felt so connected with the people who had stood there and made these drawings. It was a very spiritual and emotional moment for me.

Experts claim that the figure upper right is a female fertility symbol giving birth to all of the depicted animals.

Of course these pale besides the French cave paintings. The earliest European cave paintings date back to  32,000 years ago!. The purpose of the paleolithic cave paintings is not known. The evidence suggests that they were not merely decorations of living areas, since the caves in which they have been found do not have signs of ongoing habitation. Also, they are often in areas of caves that are not easily accessed. Some theories hold that they may have been a way of communicating with others, while other theories ascribe them a religious or ceremonial purpose. I suspect they were also a way for these long ago ancestors of ours to express their creativity. (See samples below of this magnificent artwork.)

The level of artistry in these cave paintings has always astonished me. I would so love to see these, but I do not think they let tourists in anymore.

I have to believe that what made these ancient people draw and paint is the same thing that makes us do so today.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed your post, Deb. Glad you made it to AZ to be among those rock formations. They are truly wonders, as are the pictographs. Now...how to expand upon the visions? Always a question.