I have lately been thinking of the effect of place on my work. And by place I mean a rootedness, a grounding, a deep affection, awakening to the natural world which surrounds me and allow myself, admittedly on only rare occasions, to be taken up by my favorite tree halfway along my morning walk, a gnarled desert willow, a survivor. To lose myself in gazing upon the waving grasses, the wildflowers that grow along the side of my road, year by year eating away at the asphalt and cement, making their way further and further into the manmade. I dream of their total success one day.
The most obvious effect were the first drawings I did after moving to New Mexico of grass. If I happen to find these, I’ll post them, but I think they may have been destroyed in one of my periodic studio purges. Less obvious were the many blue paintings I did in New Mexico leading one studio visitor to remark ‘These are landscapes.’ When I asked ‘how’ she pointed to the sky. This simple comment opened a deeper way for me to look at my own work and the unconscious influences of where I happen to be at the moment. I think a deep seeing into place is absorbed and cannot help but manifest in some way in my work. I look at the most recently completed group of paintings and I wonder if the dance on their surfaces is the waving grasses transformed into my reductive language. I think here of Agnes Martin’s ‘with my back to the world’ which never rang true to me. But if I think by that she meant her back to the distractions of the mundane, then it makes sense.
Related to this is the misconception that reductive work is analytical without connection to the natural world. I simply know that for myself it is from the natural world that I draw my inspiration. The effect of place, though not explicit, is inherent. I may not see this until many years after a painting is done, or a random comment by a studio visitor, but it nonetheless is present for me to discover in my future.