The Alina Paintings
Dedicated to Liz Hogan
These paintings are part of a series I did for the Latchis Theater in Brattleboro, VT. They became, during the time I worked on them, a place to hang my fears, hopes, confusion, and strength as I recovered from a long illness. They were done over nine months, painted almost exclusively to a beautifully haunting album by the Estonian composer Arvo Part. The album is called Alina.
Over the past decade, I have been uncovering and developing my own “personal symbology” through my childlike abstract drawings and paintings. I call them my own hieroglyphics. Like hieroglyphics, they remain still, even to me, as strange and mysterious and fascinating as any lost language or foreign collection of symbols.
When I’m painting, my best work is done without reflection – the things I love about painting come through most purely when my conscious mind rests. In that place, I can work without judgement or preconceived direction.
After bursts of painting, reflection is a crucial but separate step. A dialogue is established – conscious decisions about what I’ve done, then new periods of work, building and building upon painting and decisions, until the impulse to work has rested and the reflective mind is satisfied. The paintings are then the tangible record of the effort to establish balance between true expression and a personal sense of stability and beauty.
Once I read, “If you want to see what you want, take a look at what you have.” These paintings were a sounding board of self-discovery during an important time in my life. If you have a creative idea from the start, then the art is trying to get that idea across. But if your idea is only to let the work teach you about yourself, and you have the courage to follow it through, then the unexpected has a chance to come through. It is this place I long to see… hints at a world deeper, infinite, and previously unknown.
“Subconscious journaling,” I heard someone at the Latchis say. “Galloping Jungian archetypes,” someone else murmured. I always hope to work from that depth, although it’s hard and scary and there is no map there. The work is challenging, not because it contains any real challenging content, but because it came from a personal and mysterious place that is not easy to speak about, not without the risk of undermining its real importance. I have kept the pieces untitled, realizing that titles of any kind threaten to steer and therefore limit the potential depth of the viewers’ experience. Naming the pieces after this type of work seemed contradictory. If I could say it, it would be a story. These are paintings. They communicate in a different language.
All pieces are oils, oil and chalk pastel, colored pencil and gesso on 38 x 50” Stonehenge paper.