Mist rises on a mile-long white sand beach. It’s an island — almost deserted. There’s dazzle: puddle-jumping, tide pools, crabs crawling, seaweed and sun-bleached, haphazard logs. Behind, the dark forest looms: salal, spring flowers poking. Gulls call. Eagles watch. I’m on a search.
We artists have an environment in common: we search through it, we dig in it. We look here and there for subjects, ideas, better work, deeper meaning, farther sight, creative joy. I’m on my bike, a mobile easel tows behind. The watchman shakes his head. “A couple of sandwiches short of a picnic,” he says. There’s a false start, a sortie, an essay, a sketch, shutterbugging, viewfinder-thinking, mixing and matching. “I am just trying to find a way to make pictures.” (Jasper Johns)
Smells and feelings that can almost be painted. Air that might, in a pinch, be included. Gradations, lost edges, patterns of rock, counterpoint, the pieces of my little puzzle and maybe yours, too. What might be good today? Some things picturesque, painterly, doable. Others best left to Nature or another, braver hand. “To be on a quest is nothing more or less than to become an asker of questions.” (Sam Keen)
Where am I going? What am I looking for? What am I running from? What can I do with this magnificence? Open up here. Be new. “One shouldn’t go looking for something, but rather to see what is there.” (John Cage)
I’m feeling a remarkable sense of power right now. Away from the tarmac and the dieseling in this salt air, I feel the force. “Trust the force, Luke.” It’s something to do with the mystery of the search. Perhaps the faith that somewhere, somehow, there will be something here. Do you ever have the feeling that you just know it? “Painters are amongst the priests — worker priests of the cult of man — searching to understand but never to know.” (Brice Marden)
“I am hunting lost pieces of myself.” (Berthe Kaline Naparrula)
PS: “Desire, ask, believe, receive.” (Stella Terrill Mann)
Esoterica: The American primitive painter Albert Pinkham Ryder (1847-1917) reported watching an inch-worm crawl up a twig and then, clinging to the very end, revolve in the air, feeling for something to reach. “That’s me,” he said, “I am trying to find something out there beyond the place on which I have a footing.”
This letter was originally published as “The search” on May 3, 2002.
“A painting, you know, it’s all dirty material. But it’s about transformation. Taking that earth, that heavy earthen kind of thing, turning it into air and light.” (Brice Marden)
In this retreat you will delve deep into color, design and value. An artistic retreat that allows you to stretch your painting abilities while having the freedom to find your personal creative voice.
Come join me in Taos, New Mexico for this special retreat filled with tons of art information, art tips, artistic growth and creativity.
Watch the evening New Mexico light caress the adobe walls filling the air with a soft apricot glow… it is this light that inspires us to enter our soul.
If you have any questions please feel free to email Gwen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 575-751-0183.
Christine Hanlon, whose work has been compared to that of Edward Hopper, creates ‘urban landscapes which quietly exude atmosphere.’