I titled these paintings Terrain because I cut up the floor of my previous studio and mounted the pieces on supports. I found it beautiful--the floor, the ground, the thing that I stood upon--the terrain that resulted from my efforts. The marks are random, and the collections of debris on the edges of the smaller panels are from where the paint landed from the canvases hanging on the adjacent wall above.
I thought: Simple. Take the floor out of its original context and modify what is there. Clean it up. Make it my own, but more beautiful.
But then I wondered why? Why is it necessary to take a perfectly fine thing that I already found beautiful and try to make it more beautiful? My answer is because it just is. Because I want to.
The terrain of the earth is a beautiful thing, a thing of wonder and reverence. We travel great lengths to visit and experience this powerful, natural beauty now settled into a place of peace and stillness. But how the mountains and islands were created and how the canyons were formed--none of it was still and little of it was peaceful. The most striking and remarkable of terrains were violently created with explosions or impacts. This terrain is a collective of wounds and scars. And it is majestic beauty. Other terrain formed by less dramatic events--the general accumulation of erosion, is beautiful, too, although initially it may not strike us as such. Some things reveal their inherent beauty to us over the element of time.
We see the fragile beauty in innocence, in youth, in perfection, in virginity. This fragile time will pass just as surely as a petal will fall from a flower, and when it passes, we mourn it. It is easy to see and celebrate the beauty in the virgin form of all things, but to really see the beauty in a thing weathered by pain and loss, in damage, in violence, in the wounds that occur in every man and woman during every lifetime--this requires more from us. What about the gorgeous power that gracefully emerges from all of this? Sometimes the damage is too great and it overtakes a life, covering completely what once was beautiful. But more often the beauty survives, or even thrives, through these weathering or destructive events of a lifetime, creating a magnificent terrain. We regard it with reverence and call it sublime. Each one of us has and will continue to be subject to subtraction from our innate state of perfect innocence. Do we cover up the scars, or do we leave them as is and show it to the world exactly it as is? Do we cover select parts of it and reveal the rest?
In the Sojourn paintings, I have done both. I present the to you virgin beauties like Petals of the Orchid with as much sincerity as I give to you the Terrain paintings. In the spirit of a life punctuated with a certain small number of catastrophic events, with a specific degree of pain, with a particular amount of weather and loss, I present a group of images to you that contains all of this plus immeasurable times of joy, moderate satisfaction, pleasure, and a few moments of ecstasy--all from a place that is still close enough to my own recollection of innocence and youth to be glazed with a certain amount of hope and promise.