PURLIEU: Open Land where the laws of the forest still abide
Where I live in Nashville, in the Jocelyn Hills in West Meade, the interplay between nature and suburb is a dance, a dance for which the Elements know all the moves and pretty much run the show. It’s a dance that is thrilling to watch, that is full of surprises and breathtaking beauty, and it’s a little risky to be a part of. It’s also what I want to paint.
Maybe not what it looks like, but what it feels like to live where dark is dark, above the street lights, and the noises outside my bedroom window at night remind me of Wild Kingdom, a TV show from my childhood; where the woods are old and breathe out little puffs of cloud on rainy days, and I say out loud to myself, “I live in a Japanese painting;” where wind thrashes the trees along the ridge tops with an astonishing, unrelenting roar, like the ocean in a storm; where wild white azaleas bloom for a week or so every spring to perfume the air with the most incredible sweetness; where the snowplows and salt trucks never come, and the narrow hollows between such steep ridges are glazed with ice for weeks on end.
To capture something so encompassing, yet ephemeral, leads me to paint with oils over silver leaf for images that are transparent and multi-layered, and can move when the viewer moves. Every painting begins with an idea, but always ends up as an experiment in going with the flow. It’s a dance. It’s a process that can be beautiful, that is usually full of surprises and feels more than a little risky to be a part of.
(Click on image for complete view)