Shelly Speaks Out About the Value of Abstraction!
Paul Klee said, “The true artist does not work from nature, but works like nature and in nature.”
I am inspired by nature and all things natural: the lush diversity, the mystery of its processes, the structure, the dualities, the interconnectedness, the physics and the biology, the quark and the cosmos. The list goes on… It’s what makes me want to spend all my time drawing and painting. So why not paint lovely portraits of nature as so many do? True, it would likely satisfy my desire to show the beauty I perceive, but there is something more, something I realized many years ago I couldn’t deny. I don’t just want to show a pretty picture of this cosmic mystery of existence. No, that’s just not enough for me as an artist. I need to BE it. I need more than anything to participate in the act of nature itself, because of course I am it. We all are, and there’s no way around it. We are nature, from the President to the carrot I ate on my salad for lunch. And there is not so much difference between us as we would like to think.
So what does it mean to work like nature and in nature as Paul Klee says? For me it means working with the same things nature uses: basic elements, layers, time. It is the tenuous balance of construction and deconstruction that most fascinates me. When I work I am always putting imagery together and taking it apart again, over and over, layer after layer, until Cosmos is reached. I call it Cosmos because it is the perfect form I seek: the one that is whole, complete and universal. It is the one that has a singularity to it, one that represents all form in nature. Nature finds these forms for itself all the time. We are a good example, but so are moons, and microbes, and strands of DNA.
But nature never stops with a single form, however “perfect” it may seem, and neither do I. My forms are always changing, my process ever in transition toward the something new which is my ultimate goal. To move forward and grow is the essence of how I work: to find a new way into a process that is never ending and never staying the same. Art process and natural process are so much alike simply because they are one and the same. I am so happy about that, it gives me the true participation I am looking for. So why paint abstractly? Perhaps a better question for me to ask myself is why paint something from the outside, when I can paint it from the inside? Why not truly become the thing, thereby knowing it best of all? And as for the term “realism”, what is more realistic than knowing what you paint because you have been there and been on the inside of it? So perhaps I am a true realist… At least I know this much: I paint what is real for me.
A final note: My paintings are created with oil paint and mediums, cold wax medium, sand, chalk, and earth on wood panels.