Does it have life?


I often ask myself this question when I am working on a piece. Does it have life? Is there an inner vitality that emanates from every part of the figure? Does it take on a life of its own beyond my initial conception?

Where does this life derive from? Does it not come from every line, color and movement expressed in every part of the painting. When one reflects upon the sublimity of the figure, is it not expressed directly through gesture to attain an intensity of feeling? The writer and photographer, Eudora Welty expresses it as such, “I learned that every feeling waits upon its gesture; and I had to be prepared to recognize this moment when I saw it”. Every internal reflection , thought has its outward gesture. Man’s mind is in a constant state of flux. When one observes the figure, one must find the moment when the emotion and the outward expression or attitude of the figure coincide or converge.

Observation by the artist is central to his ability to craft a thoughtful image. But strictly adhering to observation alone leaves the image unadorned. It has yet to rise to a symbolic level. Delacroix reflects in his journal,” that to be successful in the arts is not a matter of summarizing but of amplifying where it is possible and of prolonging the sensation by every means.”(Journal of Eugene Delacroix, p.214.)

The artist must not only observe but generate a language of gesture. William Blake is a perfect example of this quality of generation. His figures take on cosmic proportions by the sheer magnitude of their expression. The artist must work it until it truly speaks beyond words and beyond what is almost practical – surpassing the obvious expression and seeking an internal intensity, an immensity or vastness of being.

In Baudelaire’s “Journaux intimes” he writes: “In certain almost supernatural inner states, the depth of life is entirely revealed in the spectacle, however ordinary, that we have before our eyes, and which becomes the symbol of it.”(p.29) The artist, being attentive to these things, can reveal in the very ordinary observations of reality a vastness of being that in turn opens up the soul to an immensity of life and the world that they could not have otherwise experienced. Is this not the true vocation of the artist – to reveal this experience for others to partake of ?

The Heroic Feminine


Myth and the Artistic Journey

The real and modern adventure is no longer to the dark woods of Africa or to the summit of Mount Everest, but through the vast landscape of the soul.  This is the country that is still truly unknown.  The saints who remained cloistered understood this: that there is nowhere to go, that the real journey lies in the soul hidden.

Painting itself, has become for me an extended meditation, a journey of self-knowledge referred to by the ancient Greeks as nekyia.  It is on such a path that myth is encountered.  By myth, I mean the emergence of meaning at its source, and it is a place I have learned that needs to be tended to.  It is a place rich in image that has the potential to manifest a wisdom about ourselves not hampered by limitations of culture.  It is a place reached through intuitive journey in which the images emerge freely, of their own accord.  Victor Hugo states that “we never see but one side of things, the other’s plunged in night and mystery.”  Our desire to see the other side if the beginning of the mythic journey.  It is the foundation of the imagination and the fuel that gives power to the image and that in the end transforms our very being.

The roll of the artist is to be a cartographer of the nekyia – to be open to these autonomous experiences and then allowing them to be revealed.  Art therefore, as Emerson puts it, is the “memorialization of Eternal Forces in life which, having no permanent language or iconography, require art to be known at all.”  It is to this end that I paint.  In a sense I follow those painters that allowed their intuition to have veracity.

My work was once referred to in a review as “Blake-ian” and with this I agree.  Blake allowed himself to render freely images that evoked the other world.  Again Emerson states, visual art “strikes the viewer so deeply, with such authority, the merely personal is obliterated.  Something like an archetypal self is evoked.”  This quote appears on the first page of my journal.  It gives the artist consent to take the journey.