The Kingdom of our Creator is described as right order (righteousness), peace, and joy. When I paint I seek what I call precarious or dynamic balance between order on the one hand and chaos on the other. I believe when this is achieved it produces a visually presented peace and can help prepare the viewer to receive inner peace. In a world so full of inner and outer turmoil, this quality of life is very valuable and when obtained can result in great expression of joy, or joyful celebration.
I can describe my formal interest in strong edges or exterior contours of objects in nature, especially the iris flower, in spiritual terms: the edges are apostolic boundaries and the content within them is prophetic expression. This is like the thought of King David of Israel: “the lines have been drawn for us in pleasant places”.
From the beginning of painting in this manner I have valued the two dimensional nature of the canvas and considered the formal balancing of relationships of color areas, shapes, values just as strong a purpose as presenting the subject concept. Recently I have begun to see that holding the intrinsic nature of painting on a two dimensional surface as valuable in itself seems to be an issue of integrity. Just as it might make sense to expect that a vessel be used to contain some substance, it seems right that a flat surface used for presenting visual elements not be expected to be used to create an illusion of natural spatial depth. Using the surface to present formal spatial depth could lead to the essence experience of natural spatial depth or the viewer’s experience with natural spatial depth could lead to formal encounter of spatial depth on a canvas. Allowing the flat surface of canvas or paper to live independently of artificial allusions of illustrating natural representation gives the artist the freedom to explore the essence of natural experience.
I once was working as a house painter and was working on a many paned bay window. I became aware that each of these panes was one of my 6 x 8 foot canvases. In front of me I could see one large multi-paneled piece. The idea of many panels has intrigued me ever since. The commission for Washington Regional was a triptych. I have been recently thinking more about what is significant to me about this and realize the metaphor of a window means a couple of things to me. For one it reminds me of Apostle Paul saying in the New Testament of the Christian Bible that we see in a glass dimly, realizing our limited ability in understanding some of the mysteries of life.
The other idea is related to the notion that seemed to exist even in Roman art and later in Renaissance pretty much until Cezanne. That is painting about nature as if one were looking through a window out at it. With that idea of looking through the window, devices were developed such as spatial depth and picture plane illusionistic portrayal of one frozen moment in one’s observation of something that is, ironically, not frozen but quite alive. Because I like to treat the painting surface as a flat surface and enjoy formal relationships of picture depth with or without reference to natural illusion, it occurs to me how fitting it is to use the canvas not as something one has looked through a window to see, but something that is a window one looks at to look at nature through or to look deeper into nature, life. This certainly can be approached with a single canvas, but the use of multiple canvases in a single piece enhances the metaphoric quality of it.