Scrabbling around in mountains is good for you. Among other things, I’m having occasional bouts of lucidity. For instance, I just discovered the “truth.”
I’m realizing that an artist’s own creative truth is really all that matters. Up here, it’s more than just looking for things to inflict your style on — it has to do with inhaling and exhaling. Getting it in depth. Walking helps — it slows the intake, aids digestion and speeds imagination.
It’s a high (7200 foot) natural rock garden enfolded and framed by a spur of the Rocky Mountains. This morning, every boulder, every meadow flower, clump of moss and struggling larch seems to stand out in brilliant relief. The new sun sparkles and the hoary marmot whistles. Picas scurry. Porcupines rumble in the undergrowth. On the high, narrow ridges, atmosphere prevails — sometimes the clouds are below you. Human foibles, the art of politics, the politics of art, and controversy, seem so far, far away.
While values are permanent, every pattern is a pattern in flux. The glacier, measured by ancient lichens, takes ten thousand years to recede. Design and purpose are everywhere. The moving sky joins the peaks. You have it for your very own. Because it is timeless and at the same time arbitrary, you, the artist, can more readily step into the magic. Communion goes hand in hand with sorting and simplification. The naked eye sees nuances not noticed in books or postcards. Colour swatches accumulate on the mind’s palette. Reality overcomes theory and understanding begins to float in the spaces. The notebook fills up. The energy to work is given.
One can almost glimpse an answer to the most important of all artists’ questions: “How can I be me?” The answer lies in “What can I do with this?” Professional dingbats aside, it’s based on looking and seeing.
PS: “People sometimes accuse me of being a mystic about the influences of the mountains. Perhaps I am. I devoutly believe that there are emanations from them, intangible but very real, which elevate the mind and purify the spirit.” (J. B. Harkin, Parks Commissioner, 1911-36)
Esoterica: Lichens, their spores on the jet-stream of our planet, are universal at this altitude. They are abstract rock-paintings, their colours subtle, their textures inviting. Xanthoria, the orange one (and the map lichen, geographicum, lime green with black mottling) is one of the oldest living creatures at 10,000 years. It grows at a known rate of 0.02 mm/yr for the first 110 years, 0.114 mm/yr for the next 140, and slower thereafter.
This letter was originally published as “Your creative truth” on July 11, 2003.
“While knowledge of tools and the love of motif may be in your backpack, and all mountains may be measured by their previous heroes, art must exist for you in a place beyond the judgment of others.” (Robert Genn)
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.’