Twelve years ago, during my last year at University I did an independent study in watercolor for a summer. I experimented with large watercolors using paper from rolls, stretching them onto sheets of plywood then tearing watercolors and reconstructing them into new paintings. Here are a few from that series:
original torn landscapes- 2003
These first explorations in watercolor helped me push myself in new directions. I really wanted to expand from the traditional ideals of watercolor to find new ways of expressing the landscape. These paintings informed all my following work and helped me loosen my grip on realism. At this time I couldn't see a way to display work of this nature that stayed true to its free form. I moved into painting watercolor on canvas after this, however these first torn-edge creations stayed with me through the years. Over time the idea of presenting the far view landscape grew from individual paintings to a larger continuous one. I worked on the obstacles this type of installation presented in the back of my mind, adding new ideas and tweaking the original design. When I approached Kevin Heath, Executive Director at Gilroy Center for the Arts, about the possibility of such a project and when we could make it work into the schedule he was intrigued by the prospect. We added it to the calendar and the planning began.
After seeing panels constructed by Lance Pierson on Instagram I knew I had my surface picked out. I experimented on various smaller panels first and felt that the presentation on this surface would be true to my concept.
I knew I wanted to present one continuous landscape, but which one? A view from where I grew up in South Dakota; The Black Hills, the prairie grasslands, the southern red hills? Or my current views of California; deserts, valleys, hills and oceans? I knew I wanted to include many places from different times in my life in my first large installation, but how would I decide...
In the time leading up to my installation I began to build the large panorama in my mind and started to knit together memories of places that are important in my personal timeline. I wanted to tell a story with the artwork. As you move along the painting you move through a day, beginning in the morning, through a partly cloudy day, with a few surprises in between. While I take you through the day I am also taking you on a journey through my personal timeline. I start with my earliest memory of landscape, a view of a butte, called flat-top, as seen from my grandparents ranch in Western South Dakota. This view would become a cornerstone for a sense of belonging and peace in my life. The colors are light and airy, hopeful and soft. The landscape is spare and abstract, like a child's memory with form and color but little detail. As you move through my timeline and the course of the day the landscape will reveal more details and specifics while also continuing with my unique abstract style. The painting will end with my time in California.
The concept of this installation was born over time, taking from many different aspects of my life. I want to impart a greater sense of respect for the overwhelming awe of the natural world. I take something perhaps viewed as mundane, elevate it to a higher place by enlarging it and surrounding you with it and possibly changing its perspective in your life. I hope to build more of these large installations based on other perspectives of nature. The idea to work in the public view, to walk people through the process to reveal the artworks slow progression and creation was part of the evolution of the installation.