2008 has been the best of years, the worst of years. On the world's front, not the best---though there's reason now to hope for some relief. On a personal front, a meaningful, stimulating year as far as my artwork is concerned.
Travel has been, since my childhood, a huge part of my life and my art, so, not surprisingly, travel figured largely in my world again this year. Our area had suffered from drought on and off since at least 2002, with 2007 as the driest, deadest, saddest, scariest year of my adult memory. I'm a gardener as well as a painter, so I was deeply affected by the brown, sere world outside my windows. The specter of global warming and increasing scarcity of water on our planet shook me to my soul. I needed to go where there was water and I needed to make paintings about water, half hoping that I could seed the clouds, could become a kind of rain maker myself. As is my wont, I made a plan.
Hawaii and Iceland beckoned to me. These waterfall-studded, rain-blessed, sea-surrounded volcanic islands were perfect locations for experiencing water. Paris, coastal mid-California, Montréal, Barcelona and even Austin, Texas were on my itinerary, as I explored both the sublime and the ordinary aspects of water. I wanted to avoid making obvious paintings. There are few subjects so prone to cliché as the one I'd chosen. I gave myself lots of leeway---I could draw and paint sea life, fountains, bottles of water, running water in sinks, in tubs, water in all forms and occurrences. Though I filled up many sketchbooks and renewed my commitment to more sustained paintings, it is clear, from late December's vantage point, that I've only just begun to get my sea legs. I'm beginning to understand what there is about water that calls to me and I'm feeling my way to a personal visual vocabulary for expressing it.
I'll be continuing on this watery path in 2009, working on my series of rocks and water paintings, being fully receptive to following new currents as I go. I've found a topic in water that is deeply important to me. As far as travel goes, I dream of Newfoundland and Labrador and Cornwall. I want to spend September in Brittany, to paint and to be. I have other hopes and plans for travel which I'll tell you about in time, but our global recession may freeze all, most, or some of my wanderings. We shall see. I have enough sketches, photos, studies, and memories from this year's explorations to supply me with subject matter for months of painting. There's more to tell, more about other art projects I've got on tap, two group blogs I participate in and love, some really exciting new directions, not expressly water-related, but these will have to wait because... I'm leaving Monday to spend the last days of 2008 and the first of 2009 in Paris, with a side trip to Bruges to celebrate my birthday. There'll be sketches and stories to share with you. Thank you so much, dear friends, for your continued support and interest. I've cherished your company this year and every year. Happy 2009 to you, each and all.