Sunday, October 15, 2017

Process

















After I finished teaching my cold wax painting workshop at the Baer Art Center in northern Iceland, I stayed on to do a two-week residency. When I left home, I had some idea of what I wanted to paint in those two weeks. I was going to paint the subtle colours of Iceland day by day in a very minimal way.

However, after doing several of the minimal paintings, I had no interest in doing more.  As usual, the paintings led the way and it seemed that that was not what I was going to paint. 

So I started again where I'd left off last year when I did a month-long residency at Baer.  The paintings soon morphed into different forms, taking on the textures and colours around me, particularly the textures on the rocks I found on the stony beach in front of the Art Center.






©2017 Janice Mason Steeves

©2017 Janice Mason Steeves

Gradually changing.


©2017 Janice Mason Steeves

©2017 Janice Mason Steeves

©2017 Janice Mason Steeves

At home, I've begun to make diptychs and triptychs of the gestural work alongside new minimal paintings, combining them into a different form that speaks (I hope) of both the power and texture of the land as well as it's spacious silence.


©2017 Janice Mason Steeves


©2017 Janice Mason Steeves


©2017 Janice Mason Steeves


We don't know where our work will take us. To be a painter is to surrender to the process.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Inspiration from the land-Artist Residency, Iceland




In an earlier blog post, I wrote about breathing in the spirit of place. Some places however, resonate with us while others do not, for whatever reason. I remember travelling once by sail boat to the Queen Charlotte Islands (now called Haida Gwaii), off the west coast of Canada. We anchored at the abandoned Haida villages along the way and took a dingy into shore to walk the land. I had brought along painting supplies, fully intending to sit and paint along the way. I found that I couldn't. Perhaps it was the energy of the land that had a long and sad history. I never did any work from that trip.

I resonate with Iceland––the space and the solitude here on this remote horse farm and artist residency in Northern Iceland.

“We enter solitude, in which also we lose loneliness… True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation." Wendell Berry 

In the painting workshop I taught here two weeks ago, I had a goal of trying to encourage resonance with the land. I'm not sure if one can do that but I thought I'd try to teach what works for me. I asked the students to walk the land in solitude and I read them this quotation by Irish poet and priest, John O'Donohue:

"It makes a huge difference when you wake in the morning and come out of your house....whether you believe that you are walking into a dead geographical location which is used to get to a destination, or whether you are emerging out into a landscape that is just as much, if not more, alive as you but in an totally different form.  And if you go towards it with an open heart and a real watchful reverence, you will be absolutely amazed at what it will reveal to you. That was one of the recognitions of the Celtic imagination: that landscape wasn't just matter, but that it was actually alive. Landscape recalls you into a mindful mode of stillness, solitude and silence where you can truly receive time." 










Iceland Works 12x12"  Oil/cold wax/sand on paper © 2017 Janice Mason Steeves

Iceland Works 12x12"  Oil/cold wax/sand on paper ©2017 Janice Mason Steeves

Iceland Works 12x12"  Oil/cold wax/sand on paper ©2017 Janice Mason Steeves




" I'm outside, standing or sitting on a stone. I look around, toward the horizon, at the amplitudes and the mountains. Some stand close by, others further away. Automatically, the mind starts roaming or perhaps gliding around. I go into the distance, into eternity, where the mountains have impenetrable tranquillity, where they cease being mountains and become aeriform. I enter and pass through them. What exists in the mountain exists also outside of it, and in the surrounding quietude both dread and gloom reside. And in the air all all the thoughts of the world can be accommodated." Georg Gudni, Icelandic artist. From his book, The Mountain.