Friday, August 08, 2014

8.8.14 ~ the rhythm of the heat and creative holiness in the outback series

and find what i need ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 10" x 20" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014


The most recent paintings in The Outback Series are among my most favorite, for they were created in a perfect storm of intense, passionate and focused creativity. Over the course of a recent week these were the focus of my existence, as I moved back and forth for hours each day between these six canvases laid out on my work tables. The underlying collages of printed and glued words I had done months before — way back in January, actually, before I had decided to move. Then the canvases sat in my studio — until, quite unexpectedly, the "storm" hit. 

There's something thrilling and deeply satisfying when that kind of creative passion takes over; everything just seems to align and it's almost as though you are a mere a vessel — a conduit — for an authoritative and generous Muse.

I remember the first time I experienced this, I was in graduate school in Philadelphia, working in my studio on the third floor of the old turn-of-the-last-century art building. 

It was late spring, in the late afternoon, and most of my peers had left for the day. I was working on a series of enormous paintings — 9' tall x 3-1/2' wide. They had been a struggle, for these were among my first experiments in trying to 'abstract' the landscape, and, though I couldn't really grasp it then, I really was a novice with color and scale and so much else. 

The theme of my work was the Grand Canyon — a place I had recently toured by backpack for the first time. I had struggled through several of these paintings, but that late afternoon as I worked into evening — my studio window open, a warm spring air faintly breezing in the window — as I worked on the final couple of canvases, everything just seemed to come together. I remember I was listening to Peter Gabriel's album Security — this was in the days of cassettes and Walkmans — and in particular the songs The Rhythm of the Heat and San Jacinto, just seemed to conjure the experience of the west for me and electrify my muse. As I pushed paint and color around, music blasting, I felt utterly radiant, utterly joyful, utterly and exquisitely present. ON FIRE. Totally in the moment.

My graduate school paintings. Before moving west, I needed to dispose of these paintings, so my parents and I decided to display them on the walls of our "old garage," where for 20 years now they have drawn attention from passers-by. Faded and worn by the elements, they are now pretty much destroyed. But I can't think of a better death for art.

What I experienced in creating these recent paintings was something akin to that perfect storm of creative holiness I first witnessed that spring evening in my west Philadelphia studio so long ago. Here's hoping for more "perfect storms."


nothing is harsh ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 10" x 20" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014


to be a life ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 10" x 20" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014


inside    out ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 10" x 20" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014


secrets drifting ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 10" x 20" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014


mourn no fear ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media ~ 10" x 20" ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014


The Outback Series: Mixed Media Paintings Inspired by the Western Landscape by Dawn Chandler is on view from August 2 - September 12, 2014 at Salon X, 226 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos, New Mexico, 87571

2 comments:

Jane Thompson Hasenmueller said...

Just beautiful! Love this series. Thanks for sharing the story of your first series. Brilliant way to display!

Dawn Chandler said...

Thanks so much, Jane! I hope you can make it up to Taos to see the show -- it's up through September 13.