|Poem Series: 10110 12x12" oil/cold wax on panel © Janice Mason Steeves 2010|
|Abbozzo Gallery Owner- Ineke Zigrossi|
|With artist friend, Shirley Williams on the right|
My painting of the past several years has been strongly influenced by the archetypal concept of pilgrimage. This current work has increasingly become more experimental and exploratory, turning inward and moving toward abstraction. As I began this body of work, I decided to drop all my known reference points—to step off the edge of what is familiar to me. In Buddhism, this attitude of setting aside, for the time being, preconceived ideas, beliefs and expectations is known as 'beginner's mind". Beginner's mind is like a child’s mind, just present to explore and observe and see things as they are.
As time went on, I returned to a combination of abstraction and representation, each influencing the other. Images of flowers in a moonlight garden came back into my work. The garden at night is a metaphor for life and death—which are inextricably bound to each other—and the creativity that comes out of that darkness. The darkness is what mystics call the ‘inside’ of things, the essence of things. Meister Eckhart, a German theologian and philosopher observed, “The ground of the soul is dark”. It is where the true self lies. The idea of walking in a garden in the moonlight is like a dream, or a journey through the underworld.
This new body of work approaches the painting surface in an entirely intuitive way. I lay colour fields of oil paint mixed with cold wax medium, on a wooden substrate, layer upon layer. I embed poetry and songs into the surface that they might live inside the work. The cold wax and oil paint, applied layer upon layer imitates the way that life writes upon us year after year, with its scrapes and healings, traumas and joys. It holds these memories as our bodies do, as our lives do.