Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Nine Stones, progression 1



Nine Stones, progression 2


Nine Stones, progression 3



Panel #1



Panel #4



Panel #5



Panel #6



Panel #7
Nine Stones
Oil on board, 9 panels, each panel 23" x 23"
Not for sale at this time
Click images to enlarge


So far on the blog I've only been posting my realist paintings, so this may not look like my work. But I have pursued other directions for many years, and this piece is just the latest incarnation. Though it is made up of separate panels, it should be thought of as a single work.

Nine Stones had a pretty prosaic beginning. It grew out of my becoming aware of boulders that had been placed around the edge of a small gravel parking lot out at Ladd Marsh. I've done a lot of work in the past that utilized multiple panels and multiple images, which were used in part to represent the passage of time and states of change.

I got to thinking about these common rocks, and how uncommon they really are. Native American and other indigenous peoples around the world think of the entire earth as a living organism, while the history of our modern culture has been one of separating humans from nature. It occurred to me that the only reason we think of a rock as inanimate is because its lifespan is unimaginably longer than our own. Suddenly I could sense the "life" in these stones, as a vital part of the living earth.

In the paintings, it seemed important to stay true to their individual shapes--after all, these are "portraits." It may seem silly, but it's even important to me that they are displayed in the order I've placed them, which is their actual relationship at the Marsh. But I've tried to paint them in a way that is less literal, in hopes of expressing the living energy I sense in them. My hope was to somehow ground them in observed reality, while at the same time implying a larger reality beyond our comprehension.

22 comments:

Todd Bonita said...

Another strong series here Don. Creative use of color with your approach on this series. Always fun to see what you are up to.
Best,
Todd

Katherine said...

So nice to see the stones Don. They are looking really beautiful. I didn't know they were from Ladds Marsh. It is great reading about your intentions for, and feelings about this powerful series.

Tatiana said...

Gorgeous work. I like seeing the various shapes/colors and obvious different times of day. Lovely.

Don Gray said...

Hi Todd--thanks. I tried to use color in a way that would remove the stones a step or two from observed reality.

Don Gray said...

Katherine, I always appreciate hearing your perceptions--thank you.

Don Gray said...

Thank you, Tatiana and welcome to the blog. I enjoyed seeing your own fine work.

rahina qh said...

when i first looked at these i thought how much thought had been given to the environment of each stone. then i read your comment on the posts and it all made so much more sense. thank you for that, will always respect rocks, truely. r.

Sheila Vaughan said...

Don, these boulders seem so heavy and solid but as you see they contain within them the core of their own ultimate decay, its just over millenia rather than a human lifetime. It's a wonderful notion that you have captured here. I was puzzled about the use of different hues but at the same time I could see it all worked together as a "piece" of art. Now I think the colours are significant as in different lights and seasons and viewed by different people coming across them, they would be.

Leah Waichulis said...

Don, these are beautiful! I agree with Katherine's comment...the paintings are powerful.

Don Gray said...

Thanks, Rahina--glad you got something out of that. Your paintings keep getting better and better!

Don Gray said...

Hi Sheila--I wanted to use color in this series in a more arbitrary and abstracted way--an effort to remove the subjects from a traditional realist sense of space and light. I tried to create less literal, more flexible environments.

Don Gray said...

Leah, that's kind of you to say--thanks!

L.Holm said...

These are beautiful, Don, and very powerful. You write as beautifully as you paint.

Don Gray said...

Liz, I sure appreciate your comments. Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

I love your work on the stones series. It reminds me of the underground one that comes from Arizona that graces my living room wall. The colors emphasize the way you feel about the stones. Wish I could see them in person. Eve

Don Gray said...

I'm pleased you like these, Eve. Thanks for your perceptions.

You can see them in person--come visit us!

Leslie Sealey said...

I really like your concept, and the series absolutely works. You also touch on what it means to be an artist-showing people something new or unique about their environment.

Don Gray said...

Leslie, it means a lot to hear you say that--thanks!

Dean Grey said...

Don!

The thing I'm loving the most about this stone series is that each painting has its own dominant color (yellow, purple, red, etc.).

I bet all lined up they look amazing....almost like a rock rainbow!

Great job at turning ordinary, everyday subject matter into something truly beautiful!

-Dean

Don Gray said...

Dean, I appreciate your perceptive thoughts.

David Page Coffin said...

Nominated for best "still life" posted on a blog in 2009:

http://makingamark.blogspot.com/2009/12/nominate-best-artwork-still-life-on.html

Best wishes!
David

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Hi Don - see Making A Mark Awards 2009: Nominations for the best picture (portrait/figures) http://makingamark.blogspot.com/2009/12/making-mark-awards-2009-nominations-for.html