Just back from a few days on the coast below Monterrey, where I was simply amazed at the look of the place. I grew up in California, and always loved the coast, but this trip simply hit me. The variety and diversity of the light/weather/ terrain/ trees/plants/ seemed like a deluge. It was simply a barrage of images and contrasts. It seems corny to even talk about it, but I immediately felt that I had to spend some extended time there painting. I do believe it’s a direct result of painting onsite, and of being a bit burned out looking at Florida, in all it’s glorious flatness.
The centrl coast area seems particularly rich, with the ever changeable sun and clouds and fog, and the resulting high drama of the light and shadows sweeping across the place. The hillsides above, on an overcast morning, struck me as an incredibly rich flat pattern of ragged colors…almost an abstract expressionist canvas. Phillip Guston meets Franz Kline, circa 1950 or so. The colors laid so flat in direct observation, but now drop unfortunately into space as they recede. I need to do a quick revision in PShop. The upper left heather and yellow flowers need to be pumped up in contrast and saturation……here’s a crude edit…
On another topic…I’m doing some reading on Consciousness…..an old interest of mine. I’m beginning what seems like a fairly accessible book, “The Mystery of Consciousness”, John Searle, which promises a wide overview. For me it’s the old dualism problem…how do physical processes, such as impulses transmitted by nerves, become such seamless and palpable experiences?? How do the firing of neurons become the entire basis of our conscious life?!? The world is so present; my eyes are windows; I see the world seamlessly and continously, and instantaneously! The batter can see the ball hit the bat. (Or vice versa) .
I am intrigued and amazed at the complexity of the sensation/perception/knowing/remembering loop. Also mystified. Particularly if you throw in our desires and fears, our history and our values….it’s one hell of a stew simmering there.
I really have no hope of any, even partial, solutions or answers, but I love examining the problem, and reading ideas that have been advanced.
I think I’d be happy to find ways to simply make others more aware of the mysteries, and more aware of themselves in the act of being in the world. Robert Irwin and James Turrell have devoted their careers to these issues, bit I think there is plenty of ground left to plow.
I do know, much as I love doing it, that painting pictures of the landscape doesn’t quite get to it. Rackstraw Downes gets toward it, with his closely observed and miraculously seamless paintngs of places.
Mnay ideas to develop here.