It is winter here in Santa Fe, and the landscape takes on a mystery and solemnity that influences my perspective. Ravens flying over the frozen hills, shimmering snow-covered fields, everything rests in an otherworldly slumber. Although I am an abstract painter totally devoted to non-representational imagery, all of my work is infused with a rapturous experience of the natural world. My reductive abstractions reference nature and the landscape, and perhaps this is a doorway through which the viewer can enter the painting and connect with it on a deeper level.
This perspective became very clear to me as I was resolving my newest painting, just finished a few days ago, Rising. The painting gives me a feeling of dawn, when the blue evaporates and the light rises. There are some calligraphic marks in the center which are partly submerged by a yellow-white crust (maybe a cornfield covered with snow?). A darker bluish band is at the top of the painting, where some black brushstrokes seem to be flying toward the upper edge of the canvas. I can see the painting as a field, viewed from high above, ravens flying across the landscape toward the shadow of the moon. Then the whole composition shifts and you are looking upward toward the sky, the horizon sits below you and the light is rising, the birds are flying up into what's left of the night. As an abstract painter, narrative is something I really try to avoid, but in this painting it opens up to me, and perhaps points toward a new kind of meaning in my work.
I struggled with this painting since last August; then winter arrives, my perspective shifts, and an inevitable poetry comes into being. The relationship I have with a canvas can be very intense and intimate, and this painting took a long time to resolve. Finally, when I saw the "field from above" it all came together. This is interesting since I consider the painting itself a field, in which my investigation of painting is defined by that field and its materials alone. And also interesting that my studio sits on top of a hill -- I look down upon the valley and across to the snow-covered mesas, the mountains in the distance, and the ravens drifting silently over the landscape below me.