“Spring Water” was finished up in time for International Woman’s Day. Using a few doodles as my launching point, this painting was created with a very relaxed and spontaneous spirit. Relying on the preconceived structure of the composition, that was based on my initial sketch, allowed me to paint freely and reactionary without having to worry much about the cohesiveness of the completed painting. When you are at least 80% sure the painting is going to work, the rest of your mind is free to explore and experiment with color, adding the emotional flavor needed to make the work relatable and relative to the human experience.
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I think, as an artist, you should always move forward in your art. If you try to compare your past with your present work too much, you run the risk of stalling progress, and ultimately killing all your creative energy. I do, however, think that it can be interesting to hold an older work of art next to something current to get an idea what path you’re on. I know it helps me articulate more effectively the direction I am going knowing where I came from.
Below are two paintings from different periods in my art career. The Top one is from 2002 and the bottom is from this year. I had a vague idea where I wanted my art to go, but in 2002, I wouldn’t have guessed it would become so abstract. It is clear now that I was on a journey for deeper, more universal truths through expression and experimentation. That’s the path I am on today.
In 2005, after moving to a different city and experiencing a death in the family, I began working in a more introspective way. Like the post-impressionists, fauvists, abstracters and expressionists before me, I became more interested in expressing than in rendering a likeness. I began a search for inner truth. I started to create my own visual language. In essence, I began a quest of self.
It might seem ironic to some, but when I was painting in a realistic manner, I was denying in many ways, my upbringing in a very traditional “bible belt” home in Wichita, Ks. I was desperately trying to publicly remove myself from, what I thought at the time, a backwards and literalist fundamentalist community. In the process, however, I also denied myself a past.
Today, I do not consider myself a fundamentalist, but I explore the stories and teachings of my youth with new wonder and hope. I believe at the essence of every spiritual path there are truths. In my new works, I express my appreciation for all things good in humanity as well as my desire for a more harmonic existence with each other and our natural environment.
The work below is entitled, “Birthday.”
In this mixed media collage work, (47 1/2″ x 35 1/2″) I wanted to combine my appreciation for motherhood, and the holy birth.
I have been painting and using collage lately on cradled boards that I have made myself. Since I was in control of what sizes I made, I decided to create a rather large 6′ x 4′ sized board. I’ve been picking at it since August in between other work. While it still isn’t complete, I have learned already that scale matters when it comes to my work flow. I can still be spontaneous, I just have to mix more paint, step back from the painting more, and really avoid getting stuck in one place for too long.
It has been fun seeing where this work is going. When I get stuck, I just start applying paint, or cut out a shape and stick it on the board. I then can start to respond to these small but important small acts of faith. The important thing is to just keep at it and trust you will know what to do when the time comes.
Here are some pictures from the process so far of the creation of my surface to the still unfinished stage it’s in now.
Thanks so much for coming by!-Shawn Pagels