Estuary at Gearhart
A friend of mine once said that the only people who really possess a place are travelers, that the others who live there are all possessed by the place.
I think this has something to do with the fact that experiencing the same thing repetitively tends to dull the senses and put one in something of a trance state. For me going to new places breaks that spell. I love to travel in the U.S. and overseas. As an artist choosing to do landscapes it therefore comes naturally to create art as kind of journal of the places I have been. It is also a process of remembering images and feelings while on the move and then processing them in the studio into what you see there.
North America has vast and wild landscapes which I love, but my home country of England fascinates me because not only is the landscape varied within very small distances but the addition of man-made artifacts provides an additional counterpoint to the landscape. Hedgerows and rock walls laid out hundreds of years ago delineate the contours of the hills. Artfully placed farmhouses or cottages that seem to have grown there rather than being placed there speak to the fact that man can co-operate with nature and improve rather than impose and distort by his presence.
I suppose growing up in England has influenced my idea of what a landscape is and I am certainly drawn to pastoral places here in the Northwest such as Sauvies Island which is very much reminiscent of the English landscape. I love trees especially the deciduous types that take on different shapes and colors throughout the year. They seem to express in form the interaction between the force within to grow and the force outside, the elements, that modify that force. This makes them very poetic. I find there is a language in the natural worlds that I attempt to decipher, and so I am always looking out for certain combinations and groupings in the landscape, certain phrases of images that say something to me.
In this regard there is a long history to draw upon and I take a traditional approach to rendering what it is I see. I apply myself to the task of using techniques already laid down by artists of the past. I am not trying to break any new ground and feel it is an illusion to believe that every artist has to do so. Basic "craft" rather than "self expression" is what I am attempting to follow. Hopefully I can be of service and provide a reminder to the viewer, not just to myself of the beauty that surrounds us.
I experiment with various media but I currently enjoy the medium of pastel for it's direct "hands on" quality. It allows me to blend and sculpt the pigment using my fingers and hands rather than the intermediary of a brush. I mix the colors right on the board or paper by blending, glazing and overlaying colors. This has taught me a lot about how color works. There is a pleasure when the picture looks the way one intended it to, when one has gained sufficient mastery of the tools, skills and materials, that the image emerges as intended. However, at the same time there is a parallel joy in allowing accidents to emerge, making use of serendipity and the life that a picture takes on by itself.
Artist: Allan Stephenson (website)
Dimensions: 28″ × 38″
Location: Sixth floor, #118 on the map