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going BIG ~ large scale and intention with the outback series

by | Aug 4, 2014 | abstracted landscape, mixed media landscape, Oregon Outback, Playa, text in art, the outback series


i realize now the rewards ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media on canvas ~ 48″ x 48″ inches ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014

Without a doubt, the most exciting paintings for me to produce in this series are the  large works — a diptych (two panels) measuring 48″ x 48″ and a single painting measuring 36″ x 60″. 
There’s just something freeing — liberating — about pushing paint around on a large canvas. Frequently I have to lay the painting on the floor and paint from a kneeling position on the ground, leaning over and pushing large brushes as I dribble and splatter paint.

Looking at a large painting creates a different experience for the viewer, too. Rather than being on the outside looking at this small precious image that you can hold in your hands, with a very large painting you’re presented an experience. If the scale is large enough, you feel as though you can enter into the painting; it becomes an intimate experience.

“I realize that historically the function of painting large pictures is painting something very grandiose and pompous. The reason I paint them, however . . . is precisely because I want to be very intimate and human. To paint a small picture is to place yourself outside your experience, to look upon an experience as a stereopticon view or with a reducing glass. However you paint the larger picture, you are in it. It isn’t something you command!” — Mark Rothko 

In the real scheme of things, these paintings of mine really aren’t that large. But compared to the tiny 8″ x 8″ panels I’d been doing (or the 5″ x 7″ plein air sketches) they feel colossal. I love creating them.

and what you see ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media on canvas ~ 48″ x 48″ inches ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014

The night of the show opening (this past Saturday), people were drawn especially to these large paintings. One friend asked if my Artist Statement is posted on-line, so I offer it here — a refinement of my initial blog post introducing this series:

The Outback Series of 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 are ghost-like, some are clear. Some are nonsensical, others, poetic.
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 past 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 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.
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 toward the sun, enthralled by the immense clouds and curtains of dust that formed above the always-changing alkali Summer Lake. I watched the sunlight across mud flats 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 sought to “abstract” the landscape based on the views I’d seen on my walks, out my window, in my memory and in my mind’s eye, incorporating into them the words of the responses to “What have you learned from your experiences in nature?”


With a full heart I thank ~

My family, My Good Man, and my friends ~ for their constant love and belief in me.

Playa Creative Residency Program and my Playa family.

Philmont Scout Ranch.


Delta & Salon X ~ for the opportunity and great style.

My patrons & followers ~ for the support and enthusiasm.

And especially, my friends and fellow artists Shawn Demarest [] and Joan Fullerton [] whose warmth, insight, artistic excellence and intelligence never cease to inspire me.

Dawn Chandler
August 2014


Many thanks to everyone who turned out for my show opening Saturday August, 2. Such a wonder and delight to see so many friends turn out to support me. Thank you. Your presence there means the world to me.

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