Been living on a nature reserve in South Africa for the last 6 months. Couldn’t be a more peaceful environment to paint. The only interruptions coming from mellow giraffe browzing on the trees outside the studio.
I like to paint the patterns I see in nature. There is a universal demonstration of natural law in everything if we look close enough. I see the way natural matter reacts to different environments and in the natural progression from new to old, these patterns have become a powerful inspiration for plotting my compositions.
So from the patterning on a leaf, to the ancient spirals of wood grain slowly decaying, I see the way things respond to the elements and naturally learn a lot about how much my art is affected by environments. I believe there are fine blue-prints for the design of the universe on a cellular level up through everything. My art has evolved with my growing attention on both the natural micro and macro patterns I see. All Physical matter eventually decays, peels, cracks and fades back to dust, even paintings and ideas. I have found that this observation is the most powerful inspiration and reason to paint more. I feel I get to honour and acknowledge being a part of a stage in an ever fluxing cycle of existence.
And so, the new leaves of the Eritea Obtusifolia ( Glandular Puzzle Bush ) are now tinged red outside my studio. I might chooze that red for the colour of the blood spilt on the canvas. The blood may seem a little brown to you, but for me I see the new leaves of Eritea Obtusifolia in September. Not only colour. The lines for the contors of a landscape can come from many patterns in nature. Nevermind using the lines of the contours of a real landscape, I’m talking about using the patterns on watermelons and being open enough to see an aerial view of the pattern as a topographical map of mountain ranges. The light green to dark green fades of colour become the inspiration for the contours of a valley or a snow-capped mountain peak.
Plants,Rocks and Sand, Clouds and Stars, Wind and Water etc, these are a few of my favourite things for expressing the content of my compositions. And then, every now and then, I will get inspiration in a more direct way, and it is usually through animal interactions.
What nature is showing me more and more these days is that like fractals, the patterns are repeated. And there are patterns in the patterns. A crocodile will look like a floating log in water. The patterning of scales and the physical form and colour of the environment crosses over.
The inspiration for a new series of paintings came through a very special animal interaction I had recently. There is a spotted Eagle Owl who roams freely around here. The patterning of his underwing blends in so well with his bushveld habitat. My uncle rescued him as a chick, named the owl Hip-Hop. The owl has since gone back to nature, but still sees my uncle’s house as his home. From time to time, he comes for visits, normally around sunrise and sunset. In that time, I have been hanging out with him, and subsequently I have started to acknowledge what I call a Primal Awe that I feel we do not experience as often as we used to. I have had a chance to study the bird’s markings closely and have started to reflect on the connection that Hip-Hop has with his environment. Of course I have thought about how to represent this on canvas. If I paint the owl, I will have to know the bush it lives in. If I look at it’s feathers I must also see the branches of the Acacia Nilotica around our house. It is very exciting for me to think about putting things like this together on canvas and ultimately in my own life.
Feeling so blessed to be living on such an wonderful, and wild planet.
As Hip-Hop perched on my hand this evening, I saw the things I spoke about come together. It might be interesting to see the painting alongside an image of the moment the vision was recieved. I’ll keep you posted.
Look forward to seeing how these inspirations manifest and sharing more paintings mined from my observations of the wilderness.
Peace and love.