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Showing posts from 2016

"Certain Thoughts Might Be Possible Only in Certain Places".

I have written before about Robert Macfarlane, the author of The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot. In walking some of the ancient pathways in England and Scotland, he came to consider the idea "that cognition is site-specific, or motion-sensitive; that we think differently in different landscapes." And therefore more radically, that "certain thoughts might be possible only in certain places...." When I travel to artist residencies in different countries, I think of that quotation. And in my workshops that are located in beautiful, natural surroundings, I give that quotation to the students to consider as they sit outdoors for a short meditation each day.
At the Baer Art Centre residency I attended recently in Iceland, I did a series of small paintings influenced by the land: the vastness of the space, the shapes of the surrounding mountains, the imposing headland or cape, the islands in the fiord, the basalt columns, the water. In fact I included some of the black volcan…

Picturing the World

There is a way we have of viewing the world that is unique to each of us. We see through our own lenses.

Several people have commented lately on how similar my photos are to my paintings. Which influences the other? 


I think of some photos I took at the Baer Art Center artist residency in Iceland this past July. I was sitting on a grassy hill right on the edge of the fiord. My camera somehow ended up in the grass beside me and I happened to take a photo while it rested there. When I saw what I'd taken, I took about 80 more shots! The colours in the grasses were violet, pink, lavender, yellow and green. It was dizzying. I felt like I had opened a door into a wonderland, where the blades of grass were huge and indistinct. But most interestingly, they were transparent, overlapping each other.




Recently, I taught a Cold Wax and Oil painting workshop in Anchorage, Alaska. At the end of the workshop, a friend and I took a Glacier Cruise on Prince William Sound out of Whittier, south of…

Denali

Yesterday I had the flight of a lifetime. Stan Steck is a pilot who lives in Anchorage, Alaska, where I'm teaching a 5-day painting workshop. Retired after flying many years for the National Park Service and now a pilot with K2 Aviation, he has his own single engine airplane, called a Maule. Stan offered to take me for a flight to see Denali (formerly called Mt. McKinley). The day was cloudless with brilliant sunshine and no wind. A perfect day for flying.



We drove over the marshland, lakes and tundra which cover the 250 miles of flatland between Anchorage and Denali. Rising to 20, 322 feet, Denali is the tallest mountain in North America. Stan ferries hundreds of rock climbers each year up to a base camp on Denali as well as offering flights to sightseers like me.

I was fairly nervous setting out, with the idea that we might circle this enormous mountain and land on a glacier!

The trip was beyond my wildest imaginings. We flew up glaciers and through what seemed impossibly narro…

Thoughts About My Residency Work

I've been very focused in my painting at the Baer Art Center Artist Residency here in Iceland these past 3 weeks. I had an idea before I came, that I wanted to paint mostly with black and white while I was here and even started some small pieces at home, anticipating the experience.

Amazingly, I started right off at that same place once I arrived, painting large black shapes. I'd seen photos on the Baer Art Center website of the magnificent Cape that rises from the ocean right outside our window. It's connected to the shore by two long, narrow spits of rocky beach, creating a lake within it's boundaries. The strong dark shape of it has stuck in my mind.


Gradually, I've settled more into the experience of being here. I began to use the black sand from the nearby beach in my work, mixing it in with black acrylic paint and applying it with scrapers.



In my work, I'm trying to emulate the strength and rawness of the land. The power of the open spaces. And yet, as t…

Transformed

Yesterday, four of our group of five residents here at the Baer Art Center in Iceland went on a boat ride from the nearby village of Hofsos, northward, up the peninsula.
There is a beautiful headland or Cape that we can see from the residency. It's connected to both shores with long, low spits of land covered with stones, almost creating a lake, except for one small opening where the stones and land were washed away in a recent storm.
Our boat ride was to take us to the other side of the Cape. Although I had seen images of that other side on the website of Neal Rentoul, who is a photographer and was a resident here in 2013, I was totally unprepared for the power of the experience.

The water was calm, the weather was overcast. Perfect for floating so close to this enormous Cape and for taking photos. This entire side of the Cape is made up of basalt columns.


It was so breathtaking. I felt like screaming. I felt like being silent. Both at the same time.

I was in awe of such majesty.