Greetings from the studio in my post-exhibition daze! I am still processing and recovering and am at a loss for words right now, so in lieu of new thoughts I am going to post the blurb from my show. The exhibition, which opened Thursday at Gallery five18 in Boise, was entitled "Befriending Time and Place." For those that wonder what that means to me…read first about befriending place, and then time, below.
A big thank you to all who have supported this project.
“The beautiful offers us an invitation to order, coherence, and unity, and when these needs are met, the soul feels at home in the world.” - John O’Donohue, Beauty the Invisible Embrace
I must admit, it was not love at first sight for the foothills and me.
I arrived in Idaho intoxicated by the fog hugged hillsides and lush greens and blues of the San Francisco Bay Area. My first few years here in the Treasure Valley were spent acclimating myself to this change.
But the desert loving side of me slowly and steadily reemerged. My New Mexican roots proved deep, and eventually the sagebrush, spaciousness, and austere beauty of this new desert place won me over.
My tinyExpanse paintings began as part of this acclimatization. Thrown out of my regular studio practice by my move, I knew I needed a baby step to get back into it. 3 inch by 3 inch canvases seemed to be the perfect start. These small paintings allowed me to paint subjects I had never tried before. (After all how scary can 9 square inches be?) And they allowed me to paint quickly, covering many different perspectives and locations. Through these adventurous little studies, I became acquainted with my new home. And I became reacquainted with myself as a painter.
Over the last year I have created nearly 600 tinyExpanse paintings. I estimate that since I moved to Idaho in the fall of 2009 I have completed over 1200. The daily practice of these miniature paintings has taken on a life of its own for me, serving as an anchor, an act of gratitude for the beauty around me every day, and as a way to share my love of painting and landscape with others.
Eventually I returned to larger paintings – the largest of which are 512 times larger than the tinyExpanses. But to me the works you see presented together in this exhibition are all part of a journey of acquaintance. Completing these larger works in the studio, I feel as if the foothills, river, and mountains around me are old friends –friendships that were forged slowly yet steadily over onsite painting sessions, morning walks, and studio reflections. And wherever I travel or live, painting gives me a way of feeling at ease in the world.
Painting has become my way of befriending a place and making wherever I find myself moment to moment my current home.
“Time has been called God’s way of making sure that everything doesn’t happen at once” – Hans Christian von Baeyer
Recently I came to the realization that I often live my daily life at war with time. I have also discovered that when I paint, time slows down. Or becomes irrelevant. I’m not sure which, but in any case the battle subsides and pure experience arises.
This is especially true of my time-lapse series, where I complete one painting after another in specific increments of time. For example, I painted the Boulder Front from Boulder Creek every two hours from 5am to 11pm. The experience of that day remains in my memory as one of spaciousness, ease, and harmony with the world around me. I also painted each hour of the morning from Railroad Ridge, a breathtaking place in the White Clouds. The crisp, clear, morning sky became a threatening one; rain mottled my panels; a brilliant rainbow appeared and disappeared, and the sky returned to blue. How much did I appreciate and internalize every hour of this morning, each so different from the last.
“tinyExpanse 365,” my year-long project that came to completion this fall, has also resulted in a restructuring of my relationship with time, specifically in teaching me to appreciate the transformative nature of time’s passing. When I look at all 365 paintings together and see the change of time and place that occurred throughout this year, I can also see the growth, healing, and wising up that has taken place within myself. These paintings as a collection are an external representation of internal transformation. As I completed my 365th painting on September 30,th 2014, and placed it in its place next to October 1st, 2013, a cycle was closed, and seamlessly, another began. In the words of the Irish mystic John O’Donohue, life is “a constantly unfolding event.”