Tag Archives: nature

Photo of mural in Louisiana, Missouri

What about Regional Art?

My hubby Al and I took a day trip to Louisiana, Missouri, which rests along the  banks of the Mississippi River about an hour’s drive from us. We had heard there were a lot of art galleries and had been planning to visit for years. Unfortunately, we had waited too long. Empty storefronts lined the downtown streets and “for sale” signs were posted everywhere. A reminder of how devastating the economy has been for small town America.

I was particularly saddened for all the area artists and artisans whose dreams were either crushed or redirected. We didn’t find a single gallery or studio. What we did find were beautiful historical mansions and murals. Lots and lots of murals. The artists had left their mark.

It got me thinking about regionalism. What does it mean to be a regional artist? The first thing that comes to mind is artists who paint local landscapes and historical scenes. This is true, but is that the whole story on regionalism? Then I thought about those who only show their work in their region. They would be regionalists in the purist form, but with technology as it is today, I quickly discounted the idea.

Then I hit upon the idea of palette. I’ve traveled throughout North America and discovered that each region’s nature has a different palette. Even the earth, void of foliage, is different colors in different regions. Compare the Southwest’s bleached sand and orange rocks to the Midwest’s rich deep brown dirt and limestone rocks. What if a regional artist paints within the palette of his/her region no matter the subject matter?

Would a portrait artist choose her palette subconsciously by her regional colors? What about a still life artist? It’s obvious a landscape artist would? But what if he was painting a landscape from a different region? How much influence does the local environment have on an artist’s choices? These are questions I’ve never considered before and are food for thought and debate.

I think I’m greatly influenced by my region’s colors. In my paintings I choose colors that  I’m comfortable with. Those that surround me and speak of home, of the Midwest. Looking back at paintings I’ve done from other regions, I see where I may have muted colors to appeal more to a Midwestern eye.

It’s not that you can’t find every color possible wherever you are in the world. For the most part, its more a matter of tones and tints, and which are the dominant colors in each region.

Well, these are just a few thoughts for the day as I get ready for a trip to Florida. I’ll have to visit the local galleries while I’m there to see what’s on their palettes. If you have any thoughts on the topic I’d love to hear. What about you? Do you think your palette is influenced by your surroundings?

photo of pottery in Crazy Horse Museum

Spiritual Painting

Today, I thought I’d share some thoughts about my personal painting philosophy and how I arrived at it.  As I grew as a student artist I often wondered what kind of artist I should be. I truly felt and still do that to be an artist is to partake in the creative nature of God. Definitely not on His scale, but as He is creative how can we not be creative also, since we are created in His image.

When I paint I feel this strong connection with God but I wanted it to be more. How could I express my faith in my art without being didactic? I asked my artist communities and was given the same examples of painting Biblical scenes, like Noah’s Ark. No, that isn’t what I wanted to do.

While still chewing on this bone, my husband Al and I took a walkabout to see the country. It’s amazing how beautiful North America is. We took in all 48 lower states and 6 Canadian provinces and the whole trip that little voice inside me kept saying, “Even the rocks cry out God’s glory.” And I’m thinking, I could paint rocks; I could paint nature in a way that shows God’s glory.

Then we ran across a group of Native American artisans in the Columbia River Valley. They believe that a piece of their spirit goes into whatever they create. So if they have hatred or anger in their heart when they are beading or weaving, that hatred or anger will also be in the art. Their spirit must be pure while they work.  This really resonated with me. I started praying, “Create in me a clean spirit, Oh Lord,” every time I painted.

Then one day a scripture came to mind and it has been my mantra ever since: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise worthy–meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

So these are the subjects I paint. Nature, of course, is on top of the list but not totally exclusive.

Does that mean I would never take on a painting of a darker nature. Not necessarily, but I would concentrate on the compassion or hope that lies within the darkness.

So there you have my philosophy. It’s doubtful you will ever see a painting of a Biblical scene from me, but  I hope you feel the presence of God in all of my work.