Sunday, September 16, 2012

 Did you see that bird call?

I have once again fallen in love. I know, I know, I've said it before, but this time it's different. This new love is at least of my own species. Unfortunately he's no longer available, having passed away in 1967. As Roseann Rosannadanna used to say, "Well Jane, it just goes to show you. It's always something."

For a long time I've been fascinated with trying to paint sounds and smells and air and movement, along with the "essence" of my chosen subject. I do this with squiggles and curved lines for the flight path of insects and wind blowing through the trees, circles and dashes for birds and bug calls, spring-like symbols for bursting blooms, and other mark making including what appear to be auras around trees and animals. I believe that like us, they too put forth an energy field.

I don't usually include this experimentation in my whimsical work, but if you look closely, you might spot a trace of a bird call or a glow coming off a tree limb. It's not that I see sounds or movement the way I see Buddha and Erb. (That's called Synesthesia - a neurological condition in which one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to an involuntary experience in a second cognitive pathway. There are over 60 types of synesthesia involving sounds, colors, numbers, letters, etc.) It's more like I "feel" what a sound would look like if it became visible. And to my surprise I discovered another artist that "sees" what I do. How could I not have known about him?

Which brings me to the topic of today's post, discovering a new love by the name of Charles Burchfield, 1893 - 1967, one of America's premier watercolorists. Most of his work focused on nature with subjects like his garden, snow turning to slush, insect sounds, vibrating stars (similar to Van Gogh), the forest at dusk, the changing of the seasons and atmospheric conditions. In his visionary art he used a personal calligraphy, a type of shorthand of symbolic marks. Some experts hint that he might have had a form of synesthesia. Innovative genius would be how I would describe him no matter where his inspiration came from. But what I love most is that he painted what moved him whether anyone else liked it or understood it. It pleased him and brought him joy. I also believe when an artist becomes this involved with his subject, it can help him understand other areas of his life that he may question. And Burchfield certainly had questions.

Google him, then hit images. See what moved him. You don't have to like his work but you will appreciate the fact he had his own way of seeing the world, and that's what makes an artist stand out from those that just paint certain subjects because they know they will sell. You too just might find you've discovered a new love.

Because of copyright issues I will not reproduce a sample of his work. But here is an image of one of his books. Suggested reading from my library:

Charles Burchfield's Seasons
Heat Waves in a Swamp
The Poetry of Place, Charles Burchfield's Journals

"If you take any activity, any art, any discipline, any skill, take it and push it as far as it will go, push it beyond where it has ever been before, push it to the wildest edge of edges, then you force it into the realm of magic."

                                - Tom Robbins

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