Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Personal Side of My Art

Warning: Long, rambling, reflective post ahead. Read at your own risk!

In conversations I’ve had about my artwork, both in person and online, the question of the purpose/intent of my artwork has come up. One of the conversations included a lengthy analysis of one of my flowers by a dear old friend. My (very inelegant) response was, “Wow, you got all that from my painting? I thought I was just painting a flower!”

And that’s really all I thought my painting was. I’ve said before that I “follow my muse” and create based on whatever inspires me. It sounds selfish, but…I create because it makes me happy. I paint a lot of colorful stuff (LOTS of flowers), and I’ve never thought more about it than it staves off the winter blues. Don’t get me wrong, I am literally THRILLED when someone else likes what I paint or a photograph I’ve taken; it’s a wonderful compliment and it makes me feel like I’ve connected with that person somehow. It’s TRULY a warm fuzzy feeling...I actually get butterflies in my stomach from it! But I’m pretty sure I would still create even if nobody else liked my work.

More recently, I had a conversation about art with someone much more schooled in art than I am. I mused that my paintings aren’t complicated and they don’t make any huge statement; there is no great political message or activism that goes into my art. I think most of my art and photography is consistently lighthearted in feeling. He replied that there is a reason that I choose to paint the things I do. There is something I see in my subject matter, a personal vision.

Well, I’ve been pondering all of this for a few weeks, reflecting on my artwork, my process of creation, and trying to uncover exactly what my subconscious vision is. Why do I paint the things I paint? Why do I choose MY specific subjects for my photographs?

My subject matter is usually quite simple: A flower, a leaf, my son, a reflection in the water. The subject, however, is not my only inspiration. I may be inspired by the color, the play of light, or a dewdrop. Also simple. But, in my mind, in my “vision,” there is incredible BEAUTY in that kind of simplicity.

You see, life is often chaotic, cluttered and messy. Specifically, MY life is chaotic, cluttered and messy! It would be all too easy to get buried under that chaos. And in that situation, it’s easy to miss the beauty in life.

I try to look for the good in most situations and in most people. Even on a gloomy day, there is beauty to be found if you take the time to look. And it’s often found in the little things. The essential beauty of a maple tree in the autumn, for example, may simply be the glow of the sunlight filtering through its brilliantly colored leaves. The beauty of a garden can often be narrowed down to a single flower.

The act of painting, for me, is an act of meditation. As I mediate on the simple beauty of a single flower, I am reminded that little things like that flower are all over the place, if I only stop to look. If I look and there isn’t a flower, there is sure to be a beautiful play of light on some object, somewhere. And, if neither of these are to be seen, there is probably a coating of ice on least where I live!

So, the reason I “put my work out there,” I suppose, is so that I can share that vision with others, help them see the simple beauty of everyday things, and connect with them in that sharing. I guess if there is a message to my creative work that is it: There is always something good, there is always something beautiful, if you only take the time to seek it out.

Or, maybe it's just a flower! (Grin!)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Spring Blossoms

"Spring Blossoms"
18" x 11"

Yes, I am CRAVING the warmth and sunshine of spring! I normally like winter, but we've had so much ICE this year, that it's difficult to even get outside for a walk. I'm ready for the fresh spring air...I LOVE that smell! I'd pass on the allergy part of it, but I'll take the allergies just to be able to get outside! For now, this is how I satisfy my craving...if I can't actually HAVE spring right now, I'll PAINT it instead!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Gold Leaf

"Gold Leaf"
9" x 12"

This is a leaf which I spotted floating peacefully in a puddle this fall. I loved how the sky and the clouds were reflected in what would otherwise have been a very ugly mud puddle! Maybe I should call it "Serenity" instead. What do you think?