Friday, February 10, 2006

Method Acting for Visual Artists

I've repeatedly highlighted the importance I place on travel and "living amongst" the subjects of my paintings. Now I want to take it to the next level. I love good travel-writing in the vein of "Blue Highways" because of the manner in which the author becomes an active participant in his subject. This active participation in the art of life reminds me of the system of parodoxes that had to be avoided in the storylines of the "Back to the Future" films. In the films, the Michael J. Fox character had to avoid interacting with the characters of the time in which he had travelled, or the consequences of those actions would affect him personally. What a basic, yet beautiful concept. We are self-manipulated by our social and environmental interactions.

That is how my own work has grown, over the years:

1. College brought experimentation that was actually just an impersonation of my professors' work.

2. The birth of my daughter (first child) brought about a long series of garden-like impasto oil works that emphasized light and growth.

3. My time teaching in inner-city St. Louis was my darkest of periods, while I tried to use my painting to understand the violence and self-hate of the population of which I was in daily contact.

4. I relocated into the harsh beauty of Montana and the Rocky Mountains. These paintings developed my style into an interpretation of the ironically beautifully violent natural landscape and its inhabitants - best reflected in the perceived constant movement of the landscape.

5. New Mexico has turned yet another corner in the journey of my work. Emphasizing the history and irony of a religious people as reflected in their accomplishments against the backdrop of a land most easily described as an unconscious replacement for Canaan.

All of this further advances my theory that living the place is a relentless muse. Art that comes from within is without a “block” or “dry-period” - when the unconscious is so heavily influenced by the environment. In other words what is within can only work without ceasing, when manipulated in a heavy-handed fashion from without. -DN

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