I’ve been creating “Emotional Landscapes” since my first foray into digital art in the late 90s. Many of them are based on photographic work (like Imaginary Landscape), while others are created with both photography as well as digital painting (like Landscape of the Heart).
Perhaps it’s my many years of creating “landscapes” for the plays and performance pieces while I was actively involved in theater. The world of the play needed to be “real” emotionally for the actors and the audiences.
While these emotional landscapes are mostly not based in reality, they are based on real feelings at the time. I think that’s just as valid because with all the recent work in Quantum Physics, we could be imagining our lives, no matter how “real” they seem.
Ironically, I suffered a small heart attack after having covid the end of April. And that is the basis for Landscape of the Heart. Timing in life is everything I guess!
Abstract landscapes have been a gravitational force in my work ever since I first laid eyes on Richard Diebenkorn’s paramount Ocean Park series. Henri Matisse influenced Diebenkorn nearly 50 years after the latter’s View of Notre Dame and French Window at Collioure were completed. Matisse’s use of colors had already influenced other aspects of my work from the beginning, particularly in regard to my portraits. Landscape, however, had always eluded me. For whatever reason, I could remove myself from the draw of representational lines with portraits, but that barrier was too difficult to overcome with the landscape. I wanted to paint every landscape detail in the proper color and form, and I rarely did it with any consistency. Portraits had a “feeling” that was truthful, and landscapes had a frustrating “obligation” to replicate.
That was until I discovered Diebenkorn’s free use of form and color. When I gazed at his vertical use of the canvas and compared it to the horizontal photos from his studio views in Santa Monica, CA, I was struck at how he had changed the depth of the vistas as if he had turned the flat scene, in front of him, upward toward the sky. I imagined his hand on a plane with his fingers pointing flatly away from him toward the window and then turning his fingers upward until he was staring at his palm with his fingers pointed toward the ceiling. That’s how I see Ocean Park No. 67, and that’s how I wanted to approach my own abstract landscapes. Suddenly, I saw a linear similarity between Matisse’s colors to my own landscapes through Diebenkorn’s work.
Of course, no one can replicate what Diebenkorn created, even though I’ve no doubt tried. That wasn’t the lesson, though. The lesson for me was releasing that insecurity of needing to paint realistic landscapes and focusing on the concept instead. Blocks of colors, scant lines, doing something different. They all looked different, though some were similar aesthetically. I’m not out to create 100 different versions of the exact same thing, as that creative process doesn’t suit me. But now, I feel better knowing that I can break free of the representational draw that held me in for so long. I don’t need people to see the landscape to know that it’s there. If I can feel that the landscape is there, then I know I’ve made progress.
I paint what moves me or what I love to paint. I work from my heart. Sharing that with others is the reason I’m an artist and have been since I was born.
The “Emery Island” paintings are from a concentrated series of the same island over a four-year period. Each painting produced a different experience in different media as well: watercolor, pencil, and acrylic.
Painting activates many senses for me: visual, feelings that arise and any noises that disrupt. It’s my meditation healing time, and it quiets and rejuvenates my being.
I am not an artist who conforms to rules for composition; I paint what flows through me, what moves me. For my world, it’s all about vibrations, asking myself the question, “How does it feel?”
Image at top: Ann Tracy, Imaginary Landscape, based on iPod photo, 2019.
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