21 December 2016

Written on Water

Dark Reflection, 2016. Graphite & oil on wood panel, 11x14"

Though I have been working with riverine imagery for several years, last Summer I participated in my first show on the theme- "Montana Water" at Collage Gallery in Bigfork. Paintings in this show revealed my varied interests in these settings.

In a statement for the exhibition I wrote:

In its falling, flowing and flooding, water crosses borders. Essential to all life, it both resource and refuge. We seek it with physical need and sensual pleasure. Water flows in cultural imagination too, as metaphor and site of myth. So water also crosses time. Through these various qualities, as well as the wonders of reflection, water intrigues me as an artist.

Plank, 2016. Graphite & oil on wood panel, 16x20"
Freshet I, 2016. Graphite & oil on wood panel, 8x10"
Freshet II, 2016. Graphite & oil on wood panel, 8x10"
As examples of the mythic allusions I've made through the water, "Leda's Escape" is a revision of the Classical myth in which Zeus takes the form of a swan to accost Leda. "Attendants" (below) relates to the biblical tale to Moses with his sister Miriam and the pharaoh's daughter's handmaiden in attendance to his woven ark. 
Leda's Escape, 2016. Graphite & oil on wood panel, 16x20"
Attendants, 2015. Graphite & oil on wood panels, each 16x10"
A small study: Seeker, 2016. Graphite & oil on wood panel, 7x11"

At the riverside one is bound to find water birds. Among the most majestic here in the Rocky Mountain West is the Great Blue Heron. For me these birds embody a sort of fierce patience. I marvel at how still they hold, how closely they watch, even on this most frigid days.

Vigilant, 2016. Graphite & oil on wood panel, 20x16"
Poise, 2016. Graphite & oil on wood panel, 30x20"
I take great pleasure in subordinating the human drama to the presence of other creatures, like a heron or swan in the foreground. However, there is something evocative about a character engaged with water alone that calls me back to the wading scenarios again and again. What must we wade into? What do we find ourselves wallowing in, intentionally or not? The slough as a backwater, or at least a slow moving water way suggests a calm state, but perhaps some stagnancy too.

Slough I, 2016. Graphite & oil on wood panel, 20x10"

Slough II, 2016. Graphite & oil on wood panel, 20x10"

08 December 2016

Storied Places

Gleaner, 2016. Graphite & oil on wood panel, 30x20".
Fellow artists, take heart! For many years I applied to the annual Art About Agriculture show hosted by Oregon State University. It seemed a perfect fit given my region and the perennial subjects of my work. But for one reason or another, I never got in. So, you can imagine my delight when I was actually invited to participate in the 34th annual show this year: Agriculture of the American Landscape.

Prodigal, 2016. Graphite & oil on wood panel, 30x40".
The realities of agriculture are of vital interest to me -like everyone concerned with putting wholesome food on the table. As an artist I am intrigued by the ancient and essential collaboration with nature too. In rural places wilderness and civilization meet and intermingle. Human beings strive and thrive with other animals, both wild and domestic. They all live intimately with the Elements, the blessings and vagaries of each season. What's more, agrarian landscapes are storied places. Myths and parable, proverbs and legends continue to unfold in farmland.

Aftermath, 2016. Diptych, graphite & oil on wood panels, each 30x10".
 I take up these allegorical possibilities along with inspiration from the beauty and drama of the vital world. In agricultural settings I find fertile ground to explore both the natural and unnatural forces affecting our lives. Thought fictional, my work is an expression of true wonder in seasonal change, the diversity of living things and the dynamic relationships among us all.

Sow, 2016. Graphite & oil on wood panel, 30x40".