Alaska has one of the most visually arresting landscapes I have yet encountered. The feeling of its wilderness around you is truly inspiring. It is different than hiking in the Blue Ridge, biking in back country Central Texas trails, different than any other place I’ve been. It is the lighting directly overhead, spiraling around you never below the horizon. It is just a dirt road, a rambling oil pipeline and once that gets out of view, long stunning rolling hills of green and yellow, dashes of purple and red, blue blue mountains blocking the horizon miles away.
The sky has a volume to it. The clouds with their weighted rain filled bases wrapping up into the air turning into wisps and puffs of shape. On a clear day, looking to the Brooks range everything is just as far away as the first mountain, all others around it blending together. Then the clouds start to roll and suddenly something you thought was 20 miles away now has clouds forming between it and the other mountains that are no longer so close. Dumping sheets of gray purple rain this atmosphere creeps towards you, faster than in most places I have been. Just when you think it is getting close the cloud catches another wind drift from one of the rolling valleys and starts to wander off in another direction.
Happy New Year everyone! Here’s a piece that I’ve been working on for the last year and a half. I decided this morning that I think I’m finally done. Better images to come, the highlights are too washed out here, they don’t show all the colors that are truly there, far to bright on the photograph, but I was too excited to wait to post this. The actual piece is much quieter and more centered in midtones and darks with a few radiant highlights. I was glazing it this morning with Raw Umber, Paynes Gray, and Ultramarine, and it finally achieved the look of being moonlit which I’ve been seeking. When it dries I can get some better shots. Let me know what you think!
Rain Barrels such as the one pictured can be found @ EcoWise
My new series is about the final voyage of the whaleship Essex and its demise by ramming of an angry sperm whale leading to a harrowing 89 day, 2500 mile drift by whaleboat. Accounts from the few survivors have inspired sections of the whale attack in Melville’s, Moby Dick, and cannibalism in Edgar Allen Poe’s Narrative of Author Gordon Pym.
To me the voyage and tragedy represent a different era of American history. One that is built primarily on the quest for whale oil. Aside from the obvious romanticism of man at sea and the hardships thereof, the dubious task of taking down so large a mammal by hand relates humankinds ability to willingly enter into stupendous circumstances and risk everything. Harpooning a whale could take the better part of the day, with the whole whaleboat team rowing for miles upon miles to kill the whale and then haul it back to the boat for processing. That of course is if the whale didn’t rend their boat to splinters and send them all awash with a flick of its tail. Whaling was a primal enterprise and truly, few lines of work were as dangerous or as grizzly. These whale crews were also explorers, escaped convicts and slaves, outcasts, and men searching for themselves at sea. Their trade put them not only at risk of the elements, but presented enormous strain on their bodies, psyche, and thus their futures.
My series is not about glorifying the hunt or the killing of these whales, but it is about the idea of setting yourself adrift and truly pursuing something. I am interested in thinking about what these people experienced not in the eye of the whale or moment of the hunt, but in the world and sea around them as they drift the vast oceans and brave the unknown and volatile environment so far from the comforts of land. The pieces focus on place, in fact specific points on the map, and distinct moments as I see them through the eyes of those who may have traveled before me. They are not based on photographs and internet queries, but narratives and course plotting’s of travels past and of ideas of an invented ocean that perhaps my history as a human knows better than my own eyes.
This series is still being built and the ideas around the pieces must to have room to grow and evolve, but for now this is the path I have laid out to navigate.
These two pieces are going to be shown in a juried exhibition in Bend, Oregon at Atelier 6000, through the month of February! Their show Survey Charts, Maps, Ledgers, Navigation, is a great fit for my new series of paintings following the last voyage of the Whale Ship Essex.
These are the first in a series of paintings based on the route of the whale ship Essex before its disastrous sinking by an aggressive sperm whale off the western coast of South America. If you have google earth check out this virtual tour of their path. I made a quick video of how the supports were made for these two new paintings.
(Couldn’t resist those cheesy apple sound bites!)
Back in July, during my month long stay in VA I took up wood cutting. Since that time I have been working on a series of prints that are based off of 1592 spanish map engravings of sea monsters. Through the series I’ll be progressively cutting prints to look more and more like what creatures those bewildering 1592 sea monsters might actually be. The pictures above are all working proofs.
I am also working on a collection of small prints that I am creating En plein air of different locations around the Austin area. My first was Krause springs, working vigorously for an hour on site and enjoying some cold water swimming! You can see it in the pictures as the smaller print in the top right corner. This collection will either be bound as a book or possibly printed as one large print made up of however many blocks I decide is enough.
So far it has been a lot of fun and I am learning wood cutting fast. I am a bit disappointed that while I learned a lot from Dan Miller, that I was too busy painting and etching during graduate school to take advantage of his woodcut classes. Anyway, I am enjoying the process now and its fun to teach yourself something new after 6+ years of art schooling.