Progress on the latest painting continues.
The green stripes receding into the background are gradually filling up with what I hope can be taken for goldenrod.
A strange, contradictory experience occurs when reconstructing something in the natural world; the harder one looks, the less one sees. It’s as if concentration reveals less about whatever is out there and more about the biological limits of our way of seeing it. The more intense the effort to visually pin something down, the more mysterious and impossible it becomes to do so. In the end, I usually throw up my hands and opt for repetitive, symbolic forms stretched across the surface like swatches of fabric.
There came a point in the process when I had to choose between continuing with goldenrod along the bottom or coming up with something else.
I came up with something else.
The red might be a mistake but the snake is loosely modeled on Serpent Mound, a famous Native American earthwork constructed along a bluff in Southern Ohio.
I’ve always enjoyed knowing that Ohio contains this mysterious artifact and thought to paint it. Including it forces the piece away from sentimental-barn-painting territory into something more honest and suitably strange. I believe deeply that the ordinary is anything but, and visual dissonance expresses this.
It wasn’t until after I’d sketched everything out that I noticed an affinity between the snake and the “script Ohio” of the barn. Well done, subconscious mind!