Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Night of Snow in the Mountains

Oil on canvas, approx. 32" x 72"
Private Collection

Stepping back into my personal art history again, here's another painting in the broken vessel series. This one directly followed "Lapis Lazuli" (May 1 post,) so would have been painted around 1987. I was growing increasingly interested in repeated forms, which I thought of as stand-ins for different states of being, or as markers of passing time.

To place these vessel paintings in better context, I really should go still further back, to this painting:

Things That Are Blue

Oil on canvas, approx. 30" x 44"
Private Collection

In 1984, feeling dissatisfied with lack of progress in my work, I painted this still life. It was begun as a deliberate attempt to do something a bit out of my comfort zone. Having never really painted artificially staged setups before, I thought it might help me get out of my rut. Draping a sheet over a shelf, I plopped these objects down. It felt important they not be arranged "artistically." I vowed that for four months I would do nothing but paint still lifes, no matter how boring it got.

I worked on this piece for several weeks that summer. Every day got more interesting. The white cloth fascinated me, its wrinkled void felt somehow mystical. The "dumb" alignment of these simple articles conveyed an inexplicable power. This was the only painting done that year that held my attention.

Work after work followed, each one growing less literally realistic as the still lifes helped to unfold my creative imagination. Objects left the tabletop and moved into new (for me) kinds of invented space. What I thought might be a boring four months stretched into years, then decades of excited discovery. Even the stone series I'm working on today carries the imprint of these early paintings.


Sheila Vaughan said...

Markers of passing time is an interesting concept for an artist. Mostly we concentrate on "frozen moments in time" but then I think of Monet and the Haystacks and Rouen Cathedral. I also like the idea of things "not artistically arranged". They stay in your mind more.

David Larson Evans said...

Its the mystery of the piece that caught me

Don Gray said...

Thanks for the interesting thoughts, Sheila. Those Monet paintings do feel more like a fluid concept of time as opposed to a linear one, don't they?

Don Gray said...

Thank you, David.