Magical Landscapes Created for Artist Initiative Grant 2018

I'm very excited to be the recipient of a 2018 Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.  This is a program funded by the citizens of this great state through an appropriation from the state legislature.  

I'm extremely grateful.  As part of my grant activities I've decided to blog and document the work I create in support of this grant.  To get things rolling below is the statement I wrote in my application.  It's an ambitious project, I have a bunch of big paintings to make, and I'm already at work.  Below is an initial study I made.  

Drift 2018

I have lived and created my artwork in south central Minnesota for twenty-nine years.  The rural Minnesota landscape has always been a source of inspiration for me.  Yet I do not consider my paintings landscape paintings per se.  The landscape is more a point of departure.  It informs my work.  It is the life cycles and the regular seasonal changes that are of interest to me.  These provide a larger metaphorical content in my work, a content that refers to human consciousness and our poetic longings for connection and meaning. 

For many years I have created small and large scaled oil and watercolor paintings. I have been highly influenced by the early American modernist painters such as Georgia O’Keefe, Arthur Dove, Charles Burchfield, John Marin and Marsden Hartley.  Their fusion of European modernist painting of the early twentieth century with the idiom of the American landscape has always intrigued me and informed my work.  I consider their use of the American landscape a great innovation.  I also have been inspired by their use of watercolor as a medium.  Watercolor is a rather overlooked painting process and these early American modernists utilized it extensively.  Burchfield used it exclusively.  This proposal builds upon my previous work but also expands that work in an entirely new and more inventive direction. 

The way landscape is represented has evolved in American art.  I view myself as an artist engaged in that evolution. Two other artists that have continued to influence my painting are Clyfford Still and Agnes Martin.  These two painters created work that was highly abstracted, emphasizing a spiritual awareness and awe they sensed in the land.  That is something I want to express in this new work.  A sense of growth, transformation and spirit that I see in the land that surrounds me.    

Elemental images referencing sun, moon, rain, cave, soil, water, wave, wind, hill or path have visual corollaries in the patterns colors and forms I describe within the painted space of the painting.  Grids are sometimes sky or soil.  Dots are rain, mist or snow.  Swirling lines or smears of paint sometimes represent wind.  My use of the hill or path image symbolizes the journey.  This work hovers between abstraction, realism and symbolism; that is why I refer to these paintings as magical landscapes.  

I am seeking support from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the citizens of our state to increase the scale of these smaller works.  I have done a single large-scale oil painting, image # 4.  I have also done one large-scale watercolor, image #5.  The increase in scale adds to the overall visual impact of this body of work.  I am excited to create more of these.  My plan is to create five large canvas oil paintings, 8-10 feet in size and 5 large scaled watercolor paintings, 4-6 feet.  I will also exhibit related preparatory work.