Showing posts with label imaginative art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label imaginative art. Show all posts

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Storyteller & The Dream Maker

The Dream Maker by Andrea Peterson
What stimulates the artistic mind to pick up a brush and create a painting, or to produce a beautiful object, or, for that matter, to write a compelling novel? Sometimes we see something that triggers our imagination – whether it’s a beautiful landscape, a bowl of perfect fruit, colors that turn us on, or a story that we’ve overheard.

Some artists use many of these stimuli to create their work. Painters can tell the story of what they’ve been thinking about through narrative art. These storytellers don’t use words; they use images and color to inform the viewer.

Ka Fisher’s paintings, which have a lovely, Impressionist style, tell stories about Native Americans – their land and the things they do during their daily lives. She told me that she often visits places like Chinle, Kayenta and Canyon de Chelly for her inspiration. At the Hubbell Trading post, she has taken a “listening tour,” where she overhears conversations among customers.

Escape Plan by Ka Fisher

Billy Blue Hat Rides by Ka Fisher
“I get many ideas from the people I meet and the stories I hear,” Ka said. For example, I heard about animals that tend to get away such as problem sheep. That provided me with the idea for ‘Escape Plan,’  which depicts a woman herder and a border collie keeping watch over sheep that seem to have another idea about where they want to go.”
Boots and Fetish
by Ka Fisher

Another painting, “Come to Say Hello,” was inspired by a moment when Ka was at a ranch in Taos eating donuts and some horses approached her. “I think they wanted a taste,” she said. “That was a moment I remembered and decided to share in this painting.” Although her references are accurate, Ka’s color palette is very imaginative, as you can see in her paintings.

Come to Say Hello by Ka Fisher
Sometimes memories can play a role in narrative painting. In Ka Fisher’s case, she spent her childhood summers in Canada by a river near two Indian villages. The scenes she paints incorporate some of that landscape, along with the Southwest she has adopted as her current home.

Andrea Peterson’s paintings are based on ancient mythology, lost legends and a time when nature was full of mystery. She, too, tells stories about cultures, often referring to eastern traditions and symbolism. Andrea’s paintings seem to be inspired by thoughts of figures wandering through mystical lands.

Phoenix and the Tiger by Andrea Peterson
Field of Piece by Andrea Peterson
For example, in “Phoenix and the Tiger,” she uses popular yin/yang symbols. The white tiger is a rare animal, and a powerful representation of strength, or yang. The girl has the tattoo of the Phoenix bird, a feminine, or yin, symbol of rebirth. Although this painting is highly imaginative, Andrea told me that the background is actually a depiction of an actual Chinese landscape called "Tiger Leaping Gorge."
My Bonnie by Andrea Peterson

In her painting entitled “Field of Piece,” we see a young woman with windblown hair cradling a lamb. The landscape that surrounds her is clearly one of the artist’s imaginations, and we wonder about the story that she is telling us here.

Her newest painting, entitled "Spirit World," is inspired by the annual Chinese lantern festival where many lanterns are released the first full moon of the New Year.

Spirit World celebrates positive relationships between people, ancestors, nature and the higher beings that were believed to be responsible for bringing or returning the light each year,” Andrea said. “The large size of this painting gives the viewer the sense of not just looking at a peaceful scene, but the feeling of being within the painting themselves,” she explained.

Spirit World by Andrea Peterson
As you can see, narrative art depicts subjects that are dear to an artist’s heart. In my next blog post, I’m going to look at paintings by Thom Ross. His stories are all about famous Western characters and the myths that follow them. Should be interesting!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Who Needs Reality...

What you see isn’t always what you get (in art, that is) . . .  

You Drive Me Cuckoo 30"x30" acrylic on canvas
by Trevor Mikula 
An artist’s "style" often emerges from an interest in a certain subject. But what characterizes his or her paintings is the interpretation of that subject. Is it abstract or figurative? If it’s the latter, does the artist portray realism, or a more personal means of expression? 
The Effects of Diet on Pattern
48"x36" acrylic on panel
by Timothy Chapman

At Wilde Meyer, it’s safe to say that many artists are interested in animals. A visit to the gallery will include sightings of horses, dogs, chimpanzees, zebras and other varieties of fauna. However, not all animals are portrayed in the same way. 

Timothy Chapman’s animals are a unique group. Many of them are floating – and they’re not always birds. Their hides do not have the traditional markings, and some appear to be a newly created species (by Timothy). A sense of wonder as well as humor is the thread that ties his work together.

According to Timothy (who studied biology in college), his paintings owe a lot to his fondness for earlier styles of depicting animals, particularly the copperplate engravings that illustrated Buffon's Natural History, as well as Victorian animal portraiture and old scientific illustration. Since there was no photography at that time, the images are not always correct.

The Antlered Lagomorphs of Western North America
16"x12" acrylic on panel by Timothy Chapman


"I have tried to present similarly earnest, but basically inaccurate, renderings of animals by using humor, irony and surrealistic sensibility that’s not available to the scientist," he said. 

For example, in his painting entitled "Recent Addition to the Genus Equus," we don’t know if it’s a horse or a zebra, but its floral markings are so exotic! Decorative giraffes are another favorite subject. A seemingly tattooed giraffe is reaching for fruit in a beautiful painting he donated for the Arizona Cancer Center auction. In "The Effects of Diet on Pattern," a patterned giraffe appears to float on a trip to another place.  
Recent Additions to the Genus Equus
48"x72" acrylic on canvas by Timothy Chapman


Since Timothy gives himself permission to be creative with his animals, he has painted "The Antlered Lagomorphs of Western North America," depicting four hares with different antler-style head gear. Could this be a new breed, like the Jackalope?

"What I want most is to impart to the viewer a sense of wonder and strangeness that nature photography and video, in spite of their inherent capacity for precision, cannot," Timothy explains.

Animals also are a favorite image for Trevor Mikula. His creatures bear a faint resemblance to their realistic sisters and brothers, but for the most part, they are all fantasy and humor.

Gossip Girls 20"x60" acrylic on canvas
by Trevor Mikula
I often start with an idea for a title, usually a play on words, and then I take off from there," he said.
"Often, my friends give me inspiration for a painting.  I get a lot of ‘Oh, you should do this, and you should do that,’ he explained.

Bulldog 36"x36" acrylic on canvas
by Trevor Mikula

According to Trevor, there is a narrative in his paintings, but he says it’s up to the viewer to create a story. "Gossip Girls" is a good example. Just what are those three birds saying to each other?

He is drawn to "crazy ideas that make me laugh," such as the fierce "Bulldog" with the annoying bird on its head. "You Drive Me Cuckoo" (shown at the top of this post) is definitely open to interpretations, although the gist of it is very clear!

Alice the Camel 13.75" x 13.75" acrylic on canvas
by Trevor Mikula 

Trevor has a youthful, naïf style that is very happy. His colorful images painted with palette knifes always put a big smile on my face. He can take a plain camel, name it Alice and give it a special look that’s far better than reality. Who needs reality, anyway, when you can have art?