I love this quote. It is from the blog Brain Pickings.
‘ “I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence,” Toni Morrison wrote in her electrifying piece on the artist’s duty at times of crisis. That refusal can take many forms, but at its richest, it is more than mere resistance — it is, rather, a commitment on behalf of the artist to serve not only truth but beauty by remaining in contact with the timeless and the eternal; to fortify us against the urgencies of a turbulent present and embolden us to transcend our primal reflex of fear, so that we may lift not only our spirits but the whole of our consciousness and continue to evolve toward a more humane humanity. This has always been the duty of the artist, and fragments of it can be found in every single work of art that has endured and has helped humanity endure over millennia of tumult.’
Maynard Dixon painted his time. He painted a changing and disappearing world, yet I think he would recognize a lot of what remains, if he drove out past the sprawl, into the land, he would see the same plateaus, sage brush and high arrogant clouds.
This is the land I was born in and it speaks to my soul. The vast breadth of the West gives my eyes room to see the changing landscape. I want to be witness to the place and the time I live in,, to depict its transcendent beauty, its stubborn bones, its highways and byways. I want to capture an honest impression, one that I see. The truth is neither exclusively beautiful nor exclusively dark. It is in the balance somewhere and that balance is tipped depending on the moment in time. Some moments are stunning beyond expression, some darker than it feels possible to comprehend. It is worth the trials and tribulations of our lives to experience the perfect moments. Walter Pater once said, “All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music.” There is enough candy-coated imagery out there, the pop music of pretty. Then there is the occasional voice that can hit all the notes with a resonance of honey that forces you to remember that perfection cannot last, but for this moment it is a part of the world. My language is paint. It is how I pay homage, how I investigate, how I communicate, how I hope to add to our collective culture. You can’t be subtle if you are in love with the world.
Representational art can have a great depth of meaning beyond and including the observation and re-creation of that which is depicted. When you choose to spend thirty hours on an image it becomes a curated moment. It says a lot about the artist. What do they pass along to posterity? There is a lot of responsibility in our choice of subject and how we portray it. Lasting art must be part of an art historical movement and moment or it must transcend. Art that transcends place and time is the stuff that strikes a chord, lingers in our mind, that we attach a personal value to, that we fall for. A successful painting takes on its own meaning, often different from the one it was created with. The work starts to move towards its own mythology and symbolism when it strikes a balance between the grand statement and the individual passion.
I found my grand statement in the clouds. I am obsessed with the sky. It is the counter weight of my life. It is an ongoing and epic concert reminding me of the greater truths of life. The clouds are movement and time translated into color and light. Their vast abstract qualities put the narrative of the paintings into a distanced perspective. The muscle of the land is clearly visible, sculpted by the glaciers and the lack of rain. It is a land exposed. A land depopulating to the cities, leaving the diners almost empty and the imagination full of wonder. Who lived here and why? How do you hear yourself and your dreams under such an expanse of silence? The turbulent sky is both an arena for distraction, meditation and reprieve from the day to day, while the land and our small existence on it pull me back to the stories hinted at in a pair of headlights in the waning light.