|always be my home ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 24″ x 48″ ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014|
The Outback Series: Mixed Media Paintings Inspired by the Western Landscape by Dawn Chandler
These paintings are the direct result of my desire to merge my two distinct painting styles of ‘traditional landscape’ and ‘mixed media-abstraction” into a new visual language for myself; a language that conjures the experience and memory of landscape, without being overly literal. Memories and impressions of flickers of light, deep shadows, textures, patterns, the calligraphy of bird flight, shifting horizons, reflections of sky and of self come together as a collage—a patchwork—of passages and expanses of color; of bigness and smallness, of sight and silence.
Incorporated into these images are words, inviting one to pause and ponder. Echoing memory, some words are ghost-like, some are clear; some are nonsensical, others poetic.
|just to stay ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8″ x 16″ ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014|
The text I’ve used are the responses to my query: What have you learned from your experiences in nature? Over the course of the last year, people of all ages and from all over the country have responded to this question posed on my website as well as on postcards that I’ve distributed. A good many of the responses came from teenagers—participants in Philmont Scout Ranch’s Rayado Program, an intense three-week backpacking experience similar to Outward Bound.
Why not use my own words, my own answer to the question? Partly because I was curious to see what kind of a response such a query would elicit. Partly, too, I knew my own words might be too subjective–too precious–and I therefore might be reluctant to disrupt them. Further, I hoped that others’ participation in this process would inspire me, and infuse the work with a soulfulness different than were I working from my imagination alone.
|quiet and vast ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8″ x 8″ ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014|
|wind swaying down slowly ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8″ x 8″ ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014|
My work on this painting series began in earnest in November 2013 when I was an artist in residence at Playa Creative Residency program in Summer Lake, Oregon—the heart of the dramatic, desolate Oregon Outback of central and eastern Oregon.
For five weeks there I watched the sun rise each morning, and then walked in the early sunlight, enthralled by the shimmering light, the immense clouds and curtains of dust that formed above the always-changing alkali Summer Lake. I watched the sunlight across mudflats and prairie grass and mesa-like ridge-lines; watched crows and hawks and ravens and geese and gnarled orchards and golden willows; watched deep purple shadows lengthen and recede and golden light cut across reflected blue sky. If you think I’m mistaken and am describing instead the landscape of my New Mexico home, you’re not far off. For I was stunned to discover these two states more than 1,200 miles apart are akin in their breadth and majesty.
Each morning I began my studio practice by painting a small “traditional” landscape based on the views from my studio window. These are collected together in the work, Outback Meditations:
From there I attempted to “abstract” the landscape, onto panels I’d prepared first by gluing them with printed text—the responses to my above-mentioned query. As I worked with paint and ink and layers of paper, words were concealed and then revealed through layers of color; whole sentences disappeared, and then words and fragments of phrases would emerge, forming an unexpected poetry. The same, too, with the landscape itself, as the painted geography would shift, be concealed, reconfigured, and revealed again:
|water’s edge, ii ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8″ x 16″ ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014|
|edging on knowing ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 8″ x 16″ ~ copyright dawn chandler|
The Outback Series: Mixed Media Paintings Inspired by the Western Landscape by Dawn Chandler is on view from August 2 – September 12, 2014 at Salon X, 226 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos, New Mexico, 87571
Opening reception Saturday, August 2, 6:00 – 8:00pm