For some time now my method for working on paintings has been to allow the composition to develop intuitively on the canvas. Choices of color happen naturally as well, perhaps influenced by the color of the season or even just the weather that day. And what has been happening in these compositions are vague references to landscape, particularly mountainous landscapes. At the outset of this exploration into abstraction I attributed this to my many years of living in these mountains and that these land forms have crept into my visual vocabulary. Now I am beginning to wonder if it doesn’t go even deeper than that. Perhaps it’s in my DNA.
You see, this past summer my daughter and I began researching our family tree after taking one of those DNA tests. On my mother’s side we knew there was one ancestor that came from near the area where we now live but moved on, eventually settling in the Midwest, where I grew up. And while growing up in the Midwest I had no idea I was so connected to this area exactly where I live now. As we began our research, I expected more recent family ties to points of origin most likely in Europe, yet they go far, far back on these shores. I have now learned that many ancestors from various family lines lived very near to where we are now, and how very far back those roots go. We are still researching, amazed by what we are able to find.
So I am left wondering whether my desire to paint these suggested mountain land forms can come from something much deeper than my own visual experience. Can landscape be an inherited memory? I am hungry for my ancestors’ stories, long lost and forgotten as they traveled these mountains on the old buffalo trail that passes within a mile from my door.
The shape of a landscape is an ancient and silent form of consciousness.
The three paintings featured in this post are now available in my Etsy shop. Clicking on the image should take you right there.