I've been reflecting on changes that I see in my work since the month that I spent at the Centre D'Art I Natura
in Catalonia, and the few days I had afterwards in Barcelona. Now that I've been home for over a month, the experience has receded a bit into the past, and is getting harder to call up in my mind--but it's all still there, definitely still potent in my imagination and memory.
Although they are as abstract as any of my previous paintings, my current work seems (to me at least) more focused on specific ideas and source material--a departure from my usual intuitive ramblings. Travel has a way of heightening awareness of the colors, textures and objects in the environment that make it unique, and this is especially true when you stay a while. Besides the spectacular landscape, and all the textures of rock and earth, I was also charmed by the houses and old churches in Catalonia. They are an organic part of the landscape, made of slate and other stones taken from the surrounding mountains. And so, abstracted buildings have been showing up in my work...even the dark interiors of the older houses, brightened with color on the walls and furnishings, are having an influence. The urban sights in Barcelona have also stayed with me--the contrast of the ancient with the new and stylish, and things I saw in the museums I visited there (particularly the Egyptian and Pre Columbian museums.)
Other changes in my current work are more white areas, stronger contrasts, and more lines. The landscape in Catalonia has a drama that comes through for me in stark contrasts...and an aridity and a thin atmosphere that is evoked through lighter colors. Lines that I am now drawing on oil and wax surfaces with powdered graphite are a direct result of the drawing that I did during my residency, both in realistic sketches and in more developed paintings. I also find myself using areas of strong color, especially red. And (I have to smile at myself here) I've been using gold and metallic paint and leaf in a slightly more obvious way. (Smiling because I have used these materials for quite some time, but always very subtly...the several of the other artists in residency at CAN encouraged me to go ahead, let it shine.)
The painting above, Village (22"x20") illustrates a few of these ideas--contrast, bold color, and linear elements (though these are a bit hard to see in this photo.)