I started thinking the other day about why I have always enjoyed painting landscapes. In school I had to try every subject: abstract, still-life, nude.
I have a vivid memory of writing my first artist statement and presenting it to my painting instructor. It said, “I like to paint pretty things.” My teacher firmly suggested that I change my statement to something more insightful or intriguing because this sort of declaration of self would never “fly” in the art world. It really bothered me, and still does, that in order to do anything “meaningful” in the arts you have to be bizarre or even repulsive.
As far back as memory serves me, I have always enjoyed being outdoors. I remember hiking thru the woods at the end of our street growing up- getting lost until I was a little nervous I’d never make it back. Even as a child I discovered color and texture and value while getting my hands dirty.
There have been times, in my travels, when I saw something with my eyes that didn’t even seem real. How could it be so perfectly beautiful? There I would stand in awe of the immaculate design of my surroundings and be reminded, once again, that there is a God-an amazing creator that is the most talented artist-and my primary inspiration.
I’d like to take you to some of these places.
When I was in my twenties, some of my very best friends and I decided to go to the Grand Canyon. We couldn’t just do it the conventional way. Instead, we decided to drive thru the night and get there just before sunrise. We ate leftover spaghetti at 5am with our feet dangling off of a 4,000 foot cliff.
Or, there was the time that I stood at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico and thought: “the fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I know that not everyone feels the same. But one cannot deny that we have been given a true treasure to enjoy.
When I lived in Baltimore I resumed my solo hiking. Sometimes I’d stumble upon a special moment in nature that seemed like it was designed just for me to enjoy.
So, as always, I am perfectly happy painting pretty things. I think that by doing that, that maybe just maybe, I’ll inspire someone else to think about something bigger and more awesome than them self.