Apart from painting my own corner of the world here Oregon, I also draw a great deal from my travels back to my old home country of England. There, I find something very familiar and archetypal, the essential "green and pleasant land".
"This is the place of my songdream, The place the music played to me...
Here in this place, here if anywhere, Surely we shall find Him."
from Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Wind in the Willows
In seeking out certain landscapes, certain kinds of pattern, certain temporary plays of light upon certain forms, I find that I am really only seeking out certain places that are within my own self. I am using the landscape as a vehicle, a language, a metaphor to discover and describe where I am internally. Every inner place seems to have a corresponding outer image.
I am particularly attracted to that transition time between day and night; that twilight when the shadows fall long and deep. It is a gateway time when opposites come together. There is a reconciliation of dark and light, of inner and outer. I sometimes pick for an image, those scenes where the real and the abstract become less defined. By isolating one element from the whole, and framing it, one can enhance that mystery in what we see all around us every day. Shadows falling across a hill, a deep pool reflecting back to us an equally deep sky on it's surface - all these images can help to shift our perception just enough to give a glimpse of something beyond the ordinary, to the mystical.
In this, one of my favorite stories, the characters come to a small island in the upper reaches of the Thames near to it's source, where just before daybreak the God of Nature, Pan, reveals himself to them.
For me too I am always seeking that Spirit of Place, that infuses a spot with meaning and beauty. It is hard to define, but yet I know it when I see it; or rather, I know it when I experience it! I also know it when I don't experience it, when it has withdrawn or is diminished.
Much of where we live our lives these days is in a world where the Spirit of Nature is in retreat from our encroachment. We by our own actions become impoverished for it. So I seek out those places where Pan thrives, and in so doing, enrich my own experience and hopefully that of the viewer as well.