Saturday, March 16, 2013

Four Seasons

Four Seasons is complete!  After nearly a full year this large scale transitional piece is finished.  It is the first painting of my own in which I utilized some of the style called "Curvismo", developed by my mentor and teacher Ricardo Chavez-Mendez.  In the process of learning Curvismo as well as many other lessons in color theory, brush stroke, composition, etc. my own style seemed to emerge.  This new personal style was also influenced by other artists, as well as nature, science fiction and music.

Four Seasons is a 4' x 12' oil painting and is comprised of four 3' x 4' individual panels that together create a wall mural depicting my version of the seasons of life. 

The series began with a simple charcoal drawing of a woman done by the deceased artist Brandon Crotty.  I wanted to incorporate one of his sketches into an original painting of mine, and when I came across one he had done in an open studio of a woman sitting with her knees up and arms around them I knew it was the one.  When I sketched it onto the canvas her left arm seemed to be masculine, so I created a man next to her. The rest of the composition flowed from there, with the appearances of a nautilus, a labyrinth, and water to further capture the idea of being encapsulated.  This became Spring, when all of life is like a seed. 

After this I had a dream that this was to be a series of pieces depicting the four seasons, and that each panel would have a man and woman inside or on something.  I played Vivaldi's Four Seasons while painting.

In Summer all of life seems to be rapidly growing, and the two are unaware of the explosions of color that are occurring while they nap in the heat of the day.  To me this represents that time of life when we are so busy with everything that life flies past us without us always taking notice. 

When we reach Fall we have matured enough to understand that in order to appreciate life we must slow down and enjoy each and every moment.  Here the couple enjoys playing on a pinecone while the winds of autumn are blowing.  Having a chronic illness for many years I have learned how to slow down, and I remember that shortly after my diagnosis and all the loss that followed I described feeling as though the whole world was blasting past me on a fast train while I was sitting still on the platform watching. Now I understand that being still and observing allows us to experience so much more of life. The couple in this panel is taking the time to just be, while the world is doing.

With Winter comes wisdom and awareness of what is to come.  Time seems to pass so quickly that while the couple is in the midst of their frozen surroundings they are keenly aware of and look almost confused by the sounds and sights just off the canvas.  Is it Spring that is coming or the end of life?

Ironically the panel I expected to challenge me the most, and that I thought I would like the least has turned out to be my favorite, and flowed the best.  From the beginning I thought the final panel, Winter would be drab and dull, and not so fun to paint.  It would represent the cold, empty end of life, loss and even sadness.  During this time my Mother was hospitalized for 3 weeks and while in skilled nursing she suffered a major cerebellar stroke.  I spent that time helping her and my Dad, and facing my own personal fears of death, loss and my own mortality.  We all made it through that difficult time and my Mom is recovered and well.  When I returned to painting Winter I had a fresh perspective on the later stages of life.  I incorporated human qualities like strength, perseverance, love, patience, free will and compassion. In the end I think I enjoyed the process of composing and painting Winter  most of all. 

Many things have transpired during this creative time, and I have grown so much as an artist and a person.  Painting is my passion, but also an outlet for the creative energy that returned to me when I became ill.  I am thankful that I am able to pursue this interest and hope that my work will be interesting to the viewer.  I am most grateful to my mentor and teacher Ricardo Chavez-Mendez at Oro Fine Art Gallery for creating a non-threatening and welcoming environment in which to learn, and for his willingness to adapt to various learning styles.  He is always able to find potential in his students' work, and he overflows with enthusiasm and sincere encouragement.  He also has a penchant for the use of metaphors to help us remember our lessons.

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