Re-visualizing the landscape lends itself to depicting landscapes of displacement. As landscapes are altered by war, displaced inhabitants form lines of exodus as they assume the status of refugees. As the landscape is altered, and thus re-visualized, so the people who inhabit the landscape are altered and re-visualized. The city of Kiev and its displaced inhabitants, dominated by the war horse and its rider, are portrayed within a re-visualized apocalyptic landscape.
Mindscapes is a series of India ink drawings that explores the landscapes I have experienced by transforming them into imagined scenes. Working entirely from my imagination without physical references, my mind’s eye simplified the complex reality of a landscape into the simple essence of the elegance of nature. Stylized trees arcing through sweeping hills and flowing streams, sometimes covered in snow, allow the eye to travel through the landscape just as one would if moving through by car or swiftly on foot when attention to detail is impossible.
Therefore, Mindscapes capture a mood or impression that is serene and meditative and reflects my own relationship with the landscape.
For each of these drawings, my initial plein air observation becomes a platform for a new piece of work. I start with closely observed and traditional drawings, although I am not satisfied with singular landscape drawings in the customary sense (horizon, trees, buildings, etc.). The excitement comes with completely reworking each landscape into abstract images—the drawings change into something deeper and ultimately more engaging, as observed objects are layered on each other to create an essential vision of the landscape before me.
I work in the field by selecting the most compelling object to start with. I then pick out other objects that lie before me and reassemble and layer them. For instance, in the boatyard drawings, I start with one boat isolated in the landscape and begin to layer boats on top of boats, each carefully observed and merged into a newly constructed whole. The objective landscape before me is thus transformed to create my own vision of a boatyard. The intense observation I do is of individual objects, each of which may be still or calm, and I then combine them into an image that may initially seem busy and confusing and noisy—but I am feeling calm as I am doing them, choosing the relationships among the different objects I view.
Image at top: Valera Crofoot, Kiev, oil on canvas, 36 x 42 in., 2022.