All visual phenomena is abstract, whether it be a modernist painting or a bright garden. But, as painters, it says something about our own temperament and inclinations whether our subject matter is founded on imagination –of the mind's eye; or the systems of nature – as apprehended by the eyes that look out on the world.
All artists express themselves through their art – intentional or not. Whether it be the deliberate choice of certain color harmonies to evoke a certain mood, or the use of sketchy, untidy brushwork hurriedly left unfinished, unwittingly reflecting the artist’s passionate impatience. One difference between artists is whether self expression is the aim and priority or if it is just something that happens unselfconsciously, en route in the pursuit of nature.
As a representational artist, Dan’s aim is to make it “like”-to make a statement about nature and not himself. But of course there is something about oneself, one’s tastes and temperament, revealed in the choice of subject matter and how it is composed, not to mention the handling. Dan feels that he is the pursuer, and the object of pursuit is in nature itself – in the air surrounding a landscape or the curves of a figure’s pose – and not in his own head.
But in the process of pursuing the look of nature he recognizes that aspect of self expression that is inevitable, natural and therefore welcome. It is this that can present self discovery and reveal self knowledge. Perhaps this is what is common between the world of nature and one’s own nature – human nature. We do what we do just as flora, fauna ,weather ,planets, etc.- in accordance with forces outside ourselves; we can hopefully just watch and accept.
Painting is one thing that can allow for this. He feels it is this experience that transports the representational artist’s craft beyond just slavish copying into something truly spiritual. It is as if one is saying: “I saw this and something in my nature recognized it and it moved me; and in gratitude I will try in my own feeble way to recreate some aspect of it in order to remember….and to give something back” –revealing oneself, warts and all, along the way.
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