Beauty in Potential

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This week I take the risk of sharing with you some things that are more personal. I try to do that regularly, but not often in the form of sharing my own visual work.

While as an art student in college I became fascinated with the shapes and colors of various seashells, largely through the help of a coffee table book containing high quality photos of them. The above is an example of a colored pencil study of one that I did a few years later.

More recently I became familiar with the paintings of William Dunlap of the Delta region of northwest Mississippi. To Dunlap I attribute the phrase, ‘hypothetical realism,’ words which I think well describe many of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings. I understand Dunlap’s phrase as referring to a desire to capture seen and known objects in a realistic way, but in imagined settings. I think the influence of Georgia O’Keeffe is evident above in my own willingness to superimpose the beautiful form and color of a shell upon an imagined seascape setting, without any shadows cast by the former upon the latter.

Notice, also above, how I am by temperament a water colorist… meaning that I am inclined to start with light tones before the dark, not only with traditional water colors and colored pencils, but even with with oils and acrylics (heresy admitted!).

Then, in 2021 and after about 35 years of neglect, I made what felt like a brave decision to attend an artist’s retreat at a nearby Benedictine Abbey, which has an art studio. I share below my effort to revisit an earlier love, expressing by it something of an unfulfilled potential. The painting is still unfinished, and this time I have approached the subject with acrylics.

Perhaps these days following the Epiphany, and our observance of the Baptism of our Lord, can be for us a time to appreciate gifts we have been given, whether of the physical and material kind we tend to associate with Christmas, or of the more spiritual kinds we may associate with the Epiphany. Both call for appreciation. But the form that appreciation takes in each case, as well as the timing with which it occurs, may well differ.

 

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