Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Illusion of Paradise

Illusion of Paradise, oil on canvas 36h x 60 inches.  With the last post I wrote about the enigmatic way my paintings end up with meaning and how I'm sometimes oblivious even at the end of the full meaning of the piece. With this one, it definitely evolved, but I also know it's meaning.

This one started out with a source photo I took while in Honolulu, Hawaii on a mini-vacation.  I lived there for about a year when I was in 7th grade, so it was a sort of homecoming for me.  It was odd for it to still feel like home after all these years and really a small period of my childhood, but then again when I think of my childhood my year in Hawaii feels more like ten years.  I think the that moment of going from being twelve to thirteen is an very impressionable time.  

Needless to say, while in Hawaii in September I wanted to move back.  I was filled with this sense of "why on earth wasn't my Mom able to be happy here; it's so wonderful?"  That was while on the big Island and still how I felt the first day back on Oahu. After failed attempts of striking up conversations with a few locals though, it came back in focus how cold Hawaii was when we lived there.  

One person's paradise is another person's hell.  I can go into details, but really there's no point.

So, back to the meaning of this painting. I allowed the background to feel a touch stormy and abstract to address how our belief or what paradise is, is actually very abstract and merely an impression.  I also wanted to depict the disillusion of my perception. In Japanese woman's face, in roughly the center, I unconsciously placed all my conflicted feelings about Hawaii. My subconscious mind at work again.

How I feel about Hawaii is simply this.  It will always feel like home to me, I can and will visit it, but will never be able to call it home even though I love the islands dearly.  I also realize that paradise is merely an illusion and can never be attained.

Life Comes Too Quickly

Life Comes Too Quickly, oil on canvas 36h x 24 inches. The inspiration for this piece came from three places/events.  The photo was taken initially on a bike ride from Midtown to Downtown in Phoenix.  I was feeling a little bit frustrated with what was on the easel, so I decided to go for a ride and my habit now is to try to take a camera with me wherever I go. I was aimlessly cycling around with no real place to go or mission. I didn't even care how fast or how far. I still ended up doing a few sprints though. I was struck by the loneliness of this parking lot and wondered for a moment about the lives of the people who were still up around midnight and those who were fast asleep. The second piece of inspiration came from when I was flying home from attending the opening at Abend Gallery in Denver.  I was listening to Jesu and reading Sit Down and Shut Up by Brad Warner. One of the verses stuck in my head "Life Comes Too Quickly". I was feeling exhausted a combination of work and travel and it hit home. My life is flying past me at a million miles an hour it seems and I'm not actually being mindful of the moments I'm currently in.  Last, but not least as I was working on this painting there were a few days of rain and one of them I went for a ride despite the wet roads. I didn't go too crazy, but I passed by a few wet parking lots and decided that even though the source photo was of a dry parking lot didn't mean I couldn't paint a wet one.

This brings me to say something about art.  At the last openings I've encountered folks who want more meaning and some who want less within my works. For those who wanted more I didn't think of what to say to them until weeks afterwards, but I think I can say it here.  Art has it's own intrinsic meaning beyond what the artist feels or intends it to mean or at least this artist.  So much of my work is about process.  I have this initial concept and then the work morphs from that. I also can't help, but feel like my subconscious is trying to tell me something about how I feel about things in my life. In other words - my subconscious knows what's eating me long before my conscious mind is aware of it.  In the end after I complete a painting or drawing - I'm lucky if I know what it means, but understand that the work has meaning whether or not I know what that is.

I think these days artists are way too concerned about their work having meaning.  I don't know why this is really, but my guess is that when people watch a movie or read a book there's always a "point to it".  The thing is this, does the author always know what the book is going to be about when they start writing? Can it be that they just have a flash of a storyline pop in their head. An outline of the characters, scene and plot.  As all the puzzle pieces fit together and the characters are fleshed out the author then follows them through the story and their morality (the author's voice) is then imprinted upon the piece.

It's the same for me as I paint, but my stories are told visually.  The challenge is to verbally express what I've already stated visually without losing the nuance expressed within my brushwork.