Interior Prairiescapes Series II: The Idea of Prairie,
Mark-making, Color, and Composition
|The beginning for this show of work came from the ending of
the last. At the tale end of preparing for the Grand Detour show
I pulled out a set of Japanese calligraphy brushes I had on my
shelf for well over a decade. They sat there unused I suppose
out of a sort of fear or pedestal I had put them on. Perhaps I
just didn't know what to do with them. Anyway, out they came
and I started to lay down marks of acrylic color on panel. It
fascinated, energized and excited me. It was fluid. The
process of creating them has everything to do with mediation,
reflection on prairie, mark making, color, and composition.
From those concentrations came the
grouping here today.
|A Note on Process:
During the process I was aware of the sense of reflection that
some of the work emitted. I ran with that and felt a strong pull
to work with the boards from a variety of angles; in the "round"
so to speak. I have a 4x4' table upstairs in the studio. Some of
the boards I set there and worked from a variety of sides waist
high. Others, I propped up on crates in the middle of the floor
and hunched over working from all sides knee high. That
position is more conducive to quicker and grander gestures.
Hmmm… Pollock. This process helped to keep me fresh and
focused on the use of line and color and on making marks
rather than on objectifying the panel too early in the process.
Granted they can be read, and should be, as landscapes and
therefore are not as sterile as to be categorized as non-
objective work. By the same token they are loose and
emotive, (at least to me) and not derived from any photo
source. From time to time my thoughts gravitated to
imagining the prairie from the perspective of the prairie floor.
Other times, I reflected on the sky and it's variation on hue
from horizon line to high above. Toward the later stages of
painting I put the boards up on a ledge to view them as they
would be seen hanging on the wall. It was then that I started
to see connections with each board and began experimenting
with arranging them; creating compositions using the boards
as pieces in the puzzle. That was very exciting.
During this time I became increasingly aware of the visuals as
reflections. Pondering reflection, the word brought about all of
sorts of ideas and ways of spinning this work. This was good
for metaphoric thought. And fun.
Funny, during this time of arranging the panels my own
biases, tendencies preconceptions were a source of
confrontation. It was a good hard exercise to confront those
prejudices and play with the juxtaposition of my own work. It
got me to look at the work from a fresh perspective. Good
practice in art as good practice in life.
The framing process I kept simple. I have really been enjoying
working with redwood. The color of the wood is beautiful. It is
soft and smells great. I like the idea of using reclaimed
lumber. I feel, have felt since childhood a strong pull to
recycle. For some obvious reason which escapes me now, it
is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Additionally, the
idea of the wood having a history is engaging. The wood I use
to create my redwood frames came from large distilling vat.
Who knows where those trees were found standing and for
how long. That is just amazing.
After completing of the framing process I gathered up my
thoughts, grabbed my painting journal and took a front seat in
my living room with all the work around me. I really enjoy this
part of the process just as much as the other phases. Here I
reflect on what I have done; try to make sense out of it peruse
books if my heart desires. More often than not, I find myself
opening up the dictionary… on a treasure hunt for the origins of
On this day my journey lead me to the dictionary, surprise, and
to check out the definitions of words like reflection reflexion,
interestingly some of the definitions suggest a bending back
gently upon ones self. The dictionary then teased me into
opening up the botanical Latin book always a fun place to
discover more things about words than any person would
every need to know.
From there then some how, I found myself perusing
"Manifesto: A Century of isms" by Mary Ann Caws and reading
an essay by Gertrude Stein entitled, "Composition as
Explanation" and found myself laughing out loud at how funny
and incredibly egocentric she made the notion or activity of
Given that, I suppose when it all boils down to it I enjoyed the
process of creating these works. I hope that you can find your
own unique way into engaging them and for that may the both
of us be the better.