Before I came, I assumed that I would just plop down into another studio an ocean and half a land mass away, and just make the same work I always do.

But that is not what happened.

Truthfully, I should not have expected myself to just plug back into the series I am creating in Colorado, called Analog. This place is too different from my life back home for that. Instead, the work is offering up new possibilities.

For the past few days, in between my major hikes (detailed in my last post), I have been drawing and painting quite a bit. At first everything I made felt like junk. Absolute trash. I was sitting there for about two days, wanting to throw everything away, go back in time, and start over.

Impressions of Aberteifi

“Impressions of Aberteifi,” mixed media on paper

I found certain shapes emerging, and surprising me, and quite honestly, scaring me. They were representational shapes: boats, hillsides, coastlines, leaves, rocks, clouds, horizon lines (!) – everything around me had suffused the work. And then one day I just made short, staccato marks on paper to represent the rain coming down, painting after painting of them. All of this felt like a wave washing over me, engulfing my work. Where was the oviod form? Had I lost it forever? I felt like I was fumbling around in the dark for it, only to realize it was in the boat hulls and hillsides I was drawing and painting.

Abstract landscapes

Abstract landscapes on canvas panels, work in progress.

I admit I am fighting the materials. I did not bring a lot of my good paper or canvas to work on, so I am working with sketch paper and cheap watercolor paper mostly. I realized that this is ok, however, as I am not being precious with the paper as I would if it were the good Rives BFK I usually use. I have a few canvas boards, which are better than student grade but still not great, and onto these I have started some loose abstract landscapes. I have some unstretched canvas I work on this week as well, and once I am more confident in the imagery, I will work on the small amount of Rives BFK paper I brought. (Fortunately, the paint I am working with is wonderful. Sennelier acrylic and Winsor Newton watercolors are smooth as silk.)

Abstraction is my great love, but I see the place for some representational forms to pop in here and there. They are like little anchors in the compositions.

What I am truly surprised at, however, is how much I want the landscape to be more evident in these pieces. For so long I have just painted my experience of the landscape; now, fully immersed in a foreign one, I want to capture all of its colors and forms and details, giving light to its beauty, allowing others to experience it as well.