Behind the Work: Ebb and Flow Series

I get a lot of questions about the stories and concepts behind my artwork so I was inspired to create this new series on the blog where I talk about how the ideas were born.  This is the first in the series and I'll be sharing everything behind my on-going collection of black and white paintings, Ebb and Flow.

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There is a story underneath the surface of every person.  Outside you see one thing but inside...inside there could be something completely unexpected, charged, surprising, even.  People are complicated.  We are layered and nuanced.  

 " Bound "  The image that sparked a series of paintings.  Taken in  Greece .

"Bound"

The image that sparked a series of paintings.  Taken in Greece.

Last summer, while on vacation with my family in Greece, I took a photo that has become the starting point for an entire new series of paintings, as well as the perfect self-portrait that I could find in nature.  It happened completely by accident as have so many of my personal favorite images.  I was standing behind a gate on a cliff looking out to the sea on the island of Andros with my daughter and son.  We were watching the water go from being perfectly calm to fierce with action and movement.  The stone was shades of white and gray, smooth in some spots and rough, hard and often cracked and broken in others.  It was beautiful.  The water pressed up against the rock and gently lapped up the sides on one end but violently crashed against it on the other.  The waves broke away from the surface and then seemed to dance up to the edge.  The cliff created a long shadow out to the sea and then the sun glistened on the water making it look like it was alive.  

 

I got to thinking how that one spot was like a single person being so many things at once.  I took so many photos of that one scene but it wasn't singular.  I started seeing myself in that cliff and the sea around it.  Sometimes soft, sometimes hard, sometimes angry, trying to be calm, usually dancing, searching for the sun beyond the shadows that life inevitably casts upon us.  But always there.  Always trying to be strong like that rock even if I am smooth in some spots and broken but healing and healed in others.  I saw myself in that water. Calm some days and wildly crashing against the surface others.  I think we are all like this.  So many pieces that make up a whole.  

When I got home to New York and started to go through my photos I stared for a long time at this one.  I processed it in black and white and it started to look to me like yin yang.  Admittedly I don't know much about this philosophy but I have always been interested in how opposite forces complement each other.  I love the idea of interconnectedness in the natural world and how it translates to people, our actions, our desires, and our attractions.  I'm hoping to keep studying this and to keep creating this series of paintings that takes this idea of opposites and contrasts literally with working in black and white.  I've been interpreting this scene captured in this photograph over and over again and I've been studying the details of the print to come up with new ideas.  I love layers and I especially love texture and I'm having so much fun exploring different techniques, raised textured, impasto, and more.

The last ten years have been so full of change in my life.  All of those changes in my career (from corporate finance lawyer to working artist), infertility and the pain and confusion of trying to grow my family (more on that another day), leaving the city after more than a decade for life in the lower Hudson Valley.  Change is scary.  Change is good.  Change is growth.  Change is layered and nuanced and looks like one thing one day and like something completely different on another.  Some days are calm and some days are not.  I am that cliff and that cliff is me.  I am the sea and the sea is me.  Life ebbs and flows and so do I.

Here are some of the paintings currently in the series.  Working on several others.

 Part of the series up on my studio wall.

Part of the series up on my studio wall.