I went for a drive this afternoon. It was the first one since the Autumn.
This winter has been a harsh one and the window of good weather seemed to be coming to a close, so I figured I had better get out. Driving is a great time to think, explore and get inspired. I always make sure that I have a purpose, something I set out to bring back that I cannot do on foot. For just thinking, a hike is better. I ended up at the south shore of Georgian Bay as a storm front began to slowly move into the area.
We admire uncompromising people; people that pursue a vision or a purpose with unwavering commitment. We call these people heroes and role models. In their very nature they attract some and offend others, but their belief in themselves, their vision, does not allow them to be concerned with that.
Many of us grow up attempting to be people pleasers. As artists we know that is necessary, however, how far does one take that? Seth Godin said that it is more important that you are best in your category and that it should be specific. People that share that vision will be gravitate to it. The artist’s job is to lead it. Pleasing everyone is impossible, if not undesirable.
Questions should be – what makes you unique? What are you passionate about? What are you trying to say – not necessarily just what you think, but what do you feel? Why is it important that you communicate it? Why does it matter?
In looking at these questions I have been attempting to distill exactly why I paint. I am often accused of being all in my head – a thinker. I suppose that kind of generality works for people that like labels. Thinking is important to me – but thoughts are empty and without context unless connected to something larger, something that reaches much deeper. Success is not in its description but in the attempt, the exploration – The journey is what others relate to. Emotion is not an end in itself, but merely a symptom of thought reaching that place deep within ourselves where we keep those things which make us human. Art is about sharing the human experience and imagination.
One might assume that because of the way I think, my work might be abstract or more expressive. I suppose it might be fun to try it, but it somehow is not me – at least not at the moment. I love form and colour. Landscape and the sense of place can often be a visual metaphor for an emotion, a feeling – one that many people can relate to. Like music in a minor key can evoke a memory of love or loss, sensuality or melancholy, a landscape painting speaks through Light. The angle of light, the saturation of colour and its intensity can evoke those same feelings. A certain amount of realism is required to create recognition and relationship – and specificity – for me.
I paint to raise awareness – not for some cause – but awareness of how much we are reflected in our landscapes. We till them, pave them, grow them, abandon them, observe them, and rarely pause to absorb what we are doing. Our inner landscapes are reflected in these outer landscapes. There is beauty and sadness in all of our geography. Is any of that important? It certainly is to me. It is why I get up in the morning and what stirs my passions. If it is ever to be relevant, it needs to touch others. You.
Perhaps my work is a mirror of places – an artscape. If I am moved, I am driven to share that landscape with another and in so doing, reflect who we are back to us – whether it be a wild place or an abandoned one. What makes each of us unique is the language we choose the speak in and the way we present what we are passionate about. I know I am still working out the presentation and I am hopeful that it will continue to evolve.
If you stayed with me and read all of this post, perhaps there is some meaning here after all. I want to connect with you.
I am a lifelong fan of Pink Floyd and this song came to mind. It is a song of alienation – but in this case, perhaps an example of how art can connect (links to sound and video below):
Hey you, out there in the cold
Getting lonely, getting old
Can you feel me?
Hey you, standing in the aisles
With itchy feet and fading smiles
Can you feel me?
Hey you, dont help them to bury the light
Don’t give in without a fight.
What is your Vision?