Saturday, November 17, 2012

Touching Earth, Finding Spirit

Montreal to Vancouver 4,816 Km / 2,992 miles
Having returned home after having moved through so many diverse landscapes I am allowing their impressions and feelings to wash through me in preparation to paint them as they wish to be painted. I always feel close to the living landscape, whether I am in the midst of NYC or the wilderness of Northern Ontario there is something that draws me to the sensual qualities of the earth. This last trip however, was exceptional. I can't seem to stop "feeling" the landscapes, they are embedded within my heart and soul and they want to be painted. That is why this essay by Betty Perluss has spoken to me, she seems to understand the land in a way that is becoming more and more real for me as I engage with  the poetry and beauty the land speaks through colors, textures and shapes.

"The landscape thinks itself in me, and I am its consciousness." ~Paul C├ęzanne
Perluss's words hum with insight and illuminate how nature serves as an alchemical bridge for us between inner and outer worlds. Stepping into the wilderness is like entering a "liminal space where the boundaries between psyche and nature, inner and outer, become less defined. Here, birds, animals, plants and rocks appear like characters in a dream, and all of nature speaks to those who are willing to listen."

She also suggests that, "the external world is not only a mirror for psychic events, but is also the ground--the terra firma--of the soul. Does not psyche need a place for her feet, a mountain to climb, a river to drink from, and a garden to tend?"
The article claims that "when people live in a particular place for long periods of time, they physically and psychically mimic the characteristics of the landscape. Different landscapes, therefore, produce varied geopsyches." I find this to be fascinatingly true to my experience of driving across Canada. People's personalities tend to reflect the characteristics of the land they live on. The landscape no longer exists just "out there" but resonates deeply in our bodies and souls. The "Genius Loci" or spirit of place exists in our bones.

It is this living, breathing connection to the land that I feel wants to be painted. How to do this? I am not sure. I will trust my paints and intuition to guide me. I have been preparing several large canvases in the studio as the impressions build inside me. This is both a fertile and frightening time to be a painter, when the images are within but have not yet found their outward form of expression. 

"We need new stories, new terms and conditions that are relevant to the love of land, a new narrative that would imagine another way, to learn the infinite mystery and movement at work in the world." ~Linda Hogan

The deepest words
of the wise men teach us
the same as the whistle of the wind when it blows
or the sound of the water when it is flowing.

~Antonio Machado 

Back to the studio to sit and wait and listen with the patience of rock.





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