The Growing Edge

Because I grew up in shimmering wetlands I was drawn to paint landscape I loved paintings of natural subjects, and I thought my deep love of the natural world would surely connect with others. But when I found some artistic success it was because people wanted a pretty picture, a glorified postcard or wall paper. Depth of passion or connection to the natural world had very little to do with it.

oil on paper Provence 2003

So I settled for painting pretty pictures. Which over time sold for lower and lower prices. I concluded that I wasn’t ‘good enough’ to make the real magic happen. That’s definitely a dead-end mindset!

I enrolled in CVP to reinvigorate my art. I want my paintings to be meaningful, passionate, and powerful. Despite decades of disappointment I still hope to shake people out of their complacency into a profound connection with the natural world.

I don’t care where you find it: a tadpole’s journey to frog, fossils revealing time’s layers, the volcano forging new islands, the splash of the Milky Way. A tiny beak piercing the egg shell. The orange flash of a fox tail disappearing in the wood, a seedling vine reaching for support toward the sun.

It’s a tall order. I want that power to reveal, to invite awe, and it’s life-altering experience.

Can I create awe in paint?

Throughout CVP I’ve stretched beyond my comfort zone until I had to retreat and paint a representational image. I thought it would make me feel better. But that’s not what happened. I would make a respectable painting. But they fell flat, failed to deliver the satisfaction I expected. They are just ‘Okay.’

So the only way out is through. I’m forging ahead in acrylic on panel, some blah, some surprising, some confounding. But color and form and imagery is unfurling on my growing edge, and I’m showing up to see what happens.

To see the world in a grain of sand,
or heaven in a wild flower,
hold infinity in the palm of your hand
and eternity in an hour.

William Blake

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