After noting the quote of the week on January 18th, the phrase "paintings that arise from memories or visual impressions" continued to noodle around in my head. I began to think of how seemingly disconnected parts of my life seem to put themselves together in spite of me.
Last summer, during a visit with Linda Stanley in Florida, we traveled over to see Martha Marshall for a tiny workshop on her techniques and a trip to her favorite art supply store. Working on a surface which was neither canvas nor paper, with pigments and mediums which bloomed, was energizing and Linda and I spent several days back in her studio playing with our new goodies. I loved the depth and texture which I was able to create in "my" square.
Later, needing to meet a deadline for an invitational and wanting something totally new, I decided to try the new ideas and materials. I checked that entries for this show did not need to be my typical style. I gathered supplies and planned for a week of experimentation.
Working in my little house in the country, I had several panels in progress spread across the big table when one of them began to speak and then another echoed. In the red textures circling a golden glow, I felt the experience of Niaux in France -- that heart-pumping anticipation of seeing these particular cave paintings, that frisson of fear when going into the unknown with only a flash light and a guide, the other-world awareness of the images illuminated by a single beam of light in the black rotunda deep in the mountain. The echoing painting did not come from inside the cave --its exciting red brought me out into the sunlight and up to the top of the mountain where the wind blows fiercely, the bones of old trees refuse to give up, and the view is 360 degrees.
That day near the Pyrenees had been a glorious day and there are things in the paintings which I still don't understand, but which I know belong. So I put the two pieces together and hung them as one.
But wait, there is more . . . . In October, as I walked through the woods to my sister's house, I came upon a little sweet gum tree, its glorious leaves shining like stars in the late fall day. It seemed to come from the echoing half of the Niaux Diptych! How could that be? I was stunned. It was as if I had found my name on a canvas I didn't know I had painted. Too weird. The painting which was created with the memory of France seemed to be echoed by the Georgia countryside! Or did the autumn Georgia countryside inform my impressions on that spring day in France.
Memories, experiences, images, and techniques continue to cross over in my mind. On my best days and in my best creative efforts, I don't know which is the echo.
Niaux: Out and In
Red Sweet Gum
BushStrokes (c) AAB