Meditation #1 – July’s Pond shows the influence of two different movements within abstraction on my work. First, pattern painting, which forms a large part of the historic Japanese aesthetic and resurfaced as an influence in later twentieth century American painting. Robert Kushner’s lush yet graphic paintings, influenced by the profusion of nature (flowers, leaves) reordered onto grids, has thrilled me since I first saw them. In my work, I often take details from nature that are more modest and less “showy” such as duckweed or evergreen debris, vegetative matter that is easily overlooked or considered a “nuisance.” I then look for the pattern – the way nature distributes itself – and interpret that pattern into my painting’s composition. The pondscapes, with their many layers of reflection beneath an essentially flat surface, are a variation on pattern painting – a build-up of pattern on pattern on pattern as found in nature.
Color field painting is another source of inspiration. Wikipedia notes in its definition of color field painting that it de-emphasizes surface and form. Examples of color field painters I admire include Sam Gilliam and Helen Frankenthaler. Both artists knew how to play up nuances of color and create subtle vibrations within a close range of tones and hues. Many of my pondscapes rely on subtle variations of close color in an overall pattern, but I also seek to “ground” the image in a recognizable sense of place. While treading the line between abstraction and detailed realism, my paintings offer multiple ways of looking at the world out there. The meditative repetition of painting hundreds of individual duckweeds and fir or pine needles, and the tapping of the brush to create a mist of spatter suggestive of pollen, brings me back to Japan, where the practice of art as a focused prayer or way of being one with the world is culturally implicit.
Technical painting notes: The painting began with a field of textures created using monoprint techniques on a birch-faced panel. from this “field” I began to pull the image of trees and their reflections in the water’s surface. When the reflection layer was dry, I began the surface layer of vegetation, first with spattered pollen than individually painted duckweeds, At this stage, I decided the I wanted more color and another pattern, so I introduced the floating fir needles, followed by more duckweed in various green shades, then more pollen. Details below. Enjoy!