Sunday, June 28, 2009


Crossing, oil on canvas, 18x18 inches, © 2009 Diane McGregor

Lisa Pressman has been orchestrating a wonderful project on her blog that she is asking fellow artists to participate in: what are your top ten artistic influences, and why. Well, it was almost impossible for most artists to stick with just ten, so she eventually raised the bar to fifteen. Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about this aspect of my work, how the influence of other artists has inspired my own work, and why certain artists have been so important to my development as a painter.

Here is my list (the names are in no particular order - I can't imagine choosing the number one artistic influence!):

1) Rebecca Purdum - contemporary artist who I've been following since the 80s - ethereal abstraction (shows at Tilton Gallery, NYC)

2) Sam Scott - my professor at University of Arizona, initiated me into the true painter's life and practice; lyrical abstractions of nature

3) 12th Century Chinese Southern Song painters - poetry of nature and the seasons, veiling and unveiling of forms, contemplative technique

4) Georgia O'Keeffe - paint handling, morphology of forms (the major influence upon my early work)

5) Agnes Martin - repetition, natural order, poetry of painting, the grid

6) Mondrian - composition, subtle balances and rhythms within geometric structures

7) Jackson Pollock - the spontaneous gesture; the importance of psychology and the unconscious

8) Rothko - the luminosity of color

9) Bonnard - light and color, paint handling

10) Turner - abstraction of landscape, use of thick and thin paint, use of light and dark

11) Kandinsky - for the spiritual in art

12) Cezanne - the importance of the underlying structure of a painting

13) Monet - the way he perceived light and color, the broken brushstroke

14) Donald Judd - clean lines, no-nonsense Beauty, repetition, transcending the grid

15) Joan Mitchell - abstraction of nature, luscious use of paint, use of the white ground, importance of the single brushstroke

Monday, June 15, 2009

Spirituality of the Earth

Emanation II, oil on canvas, 12 x 12 inches, © 2009 Diane McGregor

I love this quote by Thomas Berry, who died June 1, age 94. This is an excerpt from his article "The Spirituality of the Earth" (1990):
We need a spirituality that emerges out of a reality deeper than ourselves, even deeper than life, a spirituality that is as deep as the earth process itself, a spirituality born out of the solar system and even out of the heavens beyond the solar system. There in the stars is where the primordial elements take shape in both their physical and psychic aspects. There is a certain triviality in any spiritual discipline that does not experience itself as supported by the spiritual as well as the physical dynamics of the entire cosmic-earth process. A spirituality is a mode of being in which not only the divine and the human commune with each other, but we discover ourselves in the universe and the universe discovers itself in us.
This painting is part of a series I'm doing about memories of growing up near a lovely lake in Connecticut. We had the quintessential babbling brook flowing through our one-acre property. It flowed under a bridge into Canoe Brook Lake, which was across the street. I spent hours at the lake, by the brook, in the forests, with American Indian artifacts and burial mounds. I don't know how many years I lived there, but it was magical.