I work from life because I am thrilled with the visual world. It demands response. Often after being glued to a subject for hours I will break away and look at what I've done and think: that doesn't have anything to do with what I see. I've learned to look at it tomorrow. Painting is not the landscape - it is a translation. Yet while I'm working I would tell you I am copying the landscape.*
SUSAN BOGLE FINNEGAN
Five hydrangea trees stand in the side yard of my family’s homestead in Little Compton, Rhode Island. This home and farmland sits on the ocean and is a landscape enmeshed in my sense of being. It provides a profound sense of place that I come to again and again.
Semblance is one of a series of paintings that contain semi-abstract images inspired by those trees. The motifs contained in the work are branches, blossoms, and leaves, and are central to the emotional realm of my life, a realm encompassing not only a sense of place but also one of history, abundance, loss, and the cyclical rhythm of the seasons. My aim is to organize the “sense of air”, structure, weight, surface, space, and light within the motif. I am interested in how the sense or spirit of the hydrangea can be expressed, not so much literally, but rather lyrically and poetically.
Spruce Study VII and Spruce Study XIV are two paintings from a Colorado pine tree series. Again, trees have provided a motif . The nature of the trees’ verticality, the boughs’ horizontal rhythms, their sensation of weight and the air of the in-between spaces are compelling as a way into engagement ; to literally mark relationship through gesture, color, light, and space.
My focus has long been the landscape. My use of the term 'landscape' is based in the writings of John Brinkerhoff Jackson. His use of the term went back to the source word, the German landschaften, which referred to that which results when 'man' reconfigures and uses the land, in essence creating his own landscape on the natural landscape. However, I also am looking at the abstract qualities in that landscape. The Rockface series is the most purely abstract, but it too is about a reconfigured landscape: all of the images are of rock faces revealed through blasting, for road cuts or in quarrying.*
My paintings are, to some extent, fictional constructs that represent a long and delicate negotiation between what is out there in the world—the objects in a still life; the rocks, hills, or bodies of water in a landscape—and my own personal response to them. This most recent body of work is based on the landscape of the huge Roundstone Bog in the Connemara region of west Ireland. My fascination with this area is both personal—this region is where my maternal grandmother was from—and conceptual. The geological history of the bog is fascinating, and the contemporary characteristics of this austere landscape present visual problems that intrigue and challenge me as a painter. As in all of my work, it is the relationship between perception, representation, and abstraction that fascinates me. For example, how a field of rocks becomes an arrangement of color, physical marks of paint on canvas or paper, and how the painting that results can resonate with the viewer’s own thoughts and experiences.*
I paint from emotion. To me emotion is the most specific and authentic thing one can have in a work of art. My work is also rooted in aesthetics. But this doesn't just mean a nice picture that goes over the couch.
Color is my chief concern - color to make light, and color as feeling. Often, colors have a "sound" for me. They come alive through their particular combination on a canvas, just as an assembly of notes in a piece of music creates a theme. I insist on finding the exact colors that I mean. I am not satisfied until I do. I paint directly - out of doors. But I don't believe there is one truth to the light and color that is there, rather it is a light which I sense for myself as I paint.*
"In art school we were told to look at nature as if we were seeing it for the first time. Now we look at it as if we were seeing it for the last time, hence the need to meticulously observe. I desire to find the abstract in the natural and, by close observation of the intensity of individual moments, approach the transcendent."
Standing or walking in a forest. Weights: horizontal chunks of ground are sought after, depended on…almost like psychological anchors, fixed upon economically: there isn’t enough time to seize more. Far away must be eye level, not as far is hip level - 40 feet away, and close is at the calf. Our body parts engage with chunks of ground and fallen cylinders at points, for a kind of equivalency based on memory, longing, melancholia. What, overall, is dominant: the moving through, the flux, the time; its path materializes between the centrifugal verticals, and as a whole fossilizes into a history of the experience.
For me drawing is connected with looking and attempting to make clear to myself how I am seeing. It is more about how I am seeing than about what I am seeing. Drawing is the most immediate way to get in touch with my subject and find its concrete life, its hidden geometry and its possibilities for transformation. When I find a motif that circumstances allow me to work from over a period of time (a certain tree, for example, or a certain head), it is like entering a world that I can slowly annex as I learn its forms and pathways and follow the thoughts and feelings that gradually attach to it.
BRYAN HASH GILL
Born into a farming life, Bryan Nash Gill was always fascinated by the infinite variety of natural beauty. His work pays homage to his artistic journey through multiple media - pastels, monoprints, woodcuts and sculpture. Gill was a prolific artist and created a large body of work throughout his life though he is best known for his sculptures and large-scale wood cross section relief prints. “Trees are beautiful to look at…I have been drawing them for years and recently have started looking inside which has brought me closer to these gentle giants we live among,” said Gill. From his belief in the beauty of trees comes a stunning and complex elegance of patterns and forms throughout a variety of mediums.*
War is a malignant disease, an idiocy, a prison, and the pain it causes is beyond telling or meaning; but war was our condition and our history, the place we had to live in.-- Martha Gellhorn.
Since the birth of the photographic image in 1839, there has never been a world without conflict or war. This unfortunate fact parallels the meteoric rise of photography, first analogue, and most recently, digital photography, which has created a world in which we all live with images of atrocity on a daily basis. In the absence of the people who suffered these atrocities, how does a contemporary photographer respond? With the enduring architecture of war machines, bunkers, disfigured landscapes and infrastructure, these atrocity landscapes challenge us to bear witness to the past in the present.*
I am always “Chasing the Light”. These paintings were painted mostly on site - “plein-air” – in Provincetown, MA. Every day, every hour, every season the light changes, the color changes, the mood changes, and then the painting changes. I hope to capture these observations of nature and make each painting a distinct, singular, and poetic moment.
My paintings are abstract, informed by nature, comprised of memory, sideways glances, fleeting thoughts...and unrelated meanderings.
Like most artists I draw upon life experience, nature and the world around me.
The tools I use, the approaches I take, have mostly to do with how I interpret those things at that particular time.
It is my intention to create visually interesting works that hold attention upon first viewing and continue to reveal over time. Paintings that evolve intelligently and hopefully have some lasting effect on the viewer through shape and color, tensions and relationships.
My work investigates the expressive trace of natural phenomena and of human presence. These inquiries have guided specific projects focused on:
The physical and symbolic transformations/ imposition of a structured order on organic forms (architectural, geological, plant and animal systems).
Associative and semi-ambiguous indicators of material, place, gravity and scale.
The ordered and structured tendencies of human intervention explored through context, contrast, contradiction, impotence and other plays on form/function trajectories.
Exploration of phenomena through manipulation of natural materials and environmental forms.