Hillside Colorado is one of my favorite places to visit. Located just east of the northern edge of the Sangre De Cristo mountain range and west of the Wet Mountains in a sublime valley. It almost pains me to give away the location of this magical spot, but it is too good to keep to myself. If you would like to stay there you can find information here.
So why would a non-representational / abstract painter like myself be drawn to doing a landscape. Well, it was there and it was transcendental. I love making all types of work outside of my primary work. It makes my abstract work so much better. Having other forms of visual communication makes for more informed abstract work. It helps to experience the work and be able to reflect on it, and use that energy to drive my primary mode of expression.
I love to work where ever I go. I took up way too many supplies to work while I was in Hillside and on the great driving trip from Denver to Hillside via 285 though Salida Colorado. But I was glad to have all that I needed to make some Plein Air works on paper that came out pretty nice. I have not done much Plein Air works in the past, not thinking much of it. I made a great discovery that working in the environment is far superior than working from an image. Just like working on a real subject, it becomes more tangible, I felt that I could gather the experience of being there.
On the way back I took a drive to St. Elmo to the west of Browns Canyon down a road that cuts in between to mighty peaks of the Collegiate Range, the same I was painting a few days earlier. It was a super drive cutting between mountain streams, groves of aspens and a ghost town.
It has always been a great joy of mine to have grown up in Colorado and live in Denver. There are so many places to see and experience in the state.
I just finished my first large painting of 2017, “Dialogue with Modern Perception”. I have not finished a work like this in a while and I have a body of new large paintings getting close to completion. I have felt quite successful with the push and pull dynamic of working on both objective work and non-representational simultaneously. As I have worked on both my large paintings, I have also made my drawing series “Studies in Light Dynamics”. Art making is not a liner process it seems, the impulse and drive to create requires time to percolate, because of this, it is beneficial to work in two alternating modalities. Gerhard Richter seems to me to be a great example of this push and pull of two different ways of working. I feel like many artists get pushed into one mode of working, which makes sense. As an artist becomes successful in a certain style, they now have an audience seeking that from them. Working in both of these modes, I feel has strengthened my process and work.
I was recently asked when I started painting the way I do. I had to give it a quick thought. I remember starting my exploration of non representational painting in the fall of 1998. It was my last semester at Metro State Collage in Denver before moving on to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I had been accepted to SAIC because of my drawing prowess at that time.
This was a pivotal moment in my young artistic start. I saw a poster at school for a show, and later a talk at Regis University. The image on the poster caught my eye; its use of composition and color really peaked my interest.
I went to that talk on September 17th 1998 and from that moment, how I made work at changed. Mr. Ikeda had many large works, and one very large painting that really stood out, or at least it seemed very large to me at that time, it was maybe 5′ x 10′. It was, if I can still remember it correctly, mostly done in shades of whites and had textures and lines that made the composition so complex but still easy to consume. I can’t remember the talk that he gave 19 years ago, I am sure it was very informative and riveting. But I still remember the work and knowing that someday I was going to make large non-representational work that spoke to me like Ikeda’s.