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Beyond the Surface

Beyond the surface
 
Most of us are resistant to change. In fact, we may dread it, even fear it. And yet we know that change is constant, a fact of life.
 
And then there’s this oft-quoted definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
 
So I try to embrace change, or at least I try to be open to new ideas. And my painting has always been an exploration, a search for something that I don’t expect to find. The journey always brings discoveries, and that for me, is what it’s all about.
 
This line of thinking inspired me to take a one-day workshop on abstract painting with noted Rochester artist Brian O’Neill (www.brianoneillstudio.com). The experience included many firsts for me: using acrylic paints, working standing up at an easel, painting directly (without preliminary drawings and thumbnail sketches) and developing an abstract composition. All new, and more than a little intimidating – but truly exhilarating.    
 
In fact, I enjoyed the class so much I took it again a month later. I’m not giving up my long-time love affair with representational painting in watercolor, but I’m hoping the two processes will cross-pollinate and lead me in a new direction.
 
So far, I think my most successful abstract paintings are what I call “dreamscapes.” Some are based on “real” landscapes, but others just sort of take shape in my head. The hardest part for me is following an intuitive vision and not falling back into strictly representational interpretations.
 
Of course, any artistic representation, even the most realistic work – even photography – is abstract. A picture of a tree is not a tree. As my longtime painting teacher often said, “Only God can make a tree.” I have tremendous admiration for artists with the skill and patience to render a photo-realistic image, but artists – and I include photographers – are striving to do more than depict reality.
We’re trying to create. That’s the challenge.
 

-- Kathy Lindsley

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