Ed Burke in Peekskill, NY studio
This painting period evolved from the following three sources: direct observation of the external world, my mind's eye, and my id/ subconscious. Direct observation is the most easily understood and forms the basis for most representational art. The mind's eye is the store of observed images which each of us collects throughout our lives. This source will have recognizable images or symbols but will distort and manipulate them into new visual experiences. Finally, works from the id strive to completely shut down the first two sources and rely totally on the subconscious's stimuli coupled to an aesthetic reaction to the marks and forms accumulating on the canvas. This source generates visceral and spontaneous abstract paintings that grow organically with little reference to the external world — either observed or remembered.
In 2007 I completed a series of paintings, "Early Spring," which embodies creating from these three sources. The content for these paintings comes from a tradition in our home. Every year in late winter, my wife Lorraine arranges a bouquet of yellow tulips and places it in front of a window framing winters stark scene. She creates our own "Early Spring," helping us fend off the doldrums of winter as we begin to anticipate the warmth of spring. I have interpreted this straightforward content in five paintings utilizing three different sources. Although I did not start to paint a series, as the work progressed, I began to see that the pieces formed a narrative of how I think and create. These works range from representational to abstract. The ends of this range are theoretical and not so neatly defined. In some ways, figurative paintings are abstract as they represent a three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional surface utilizing a myriad of personal choices that drive the work's creation. Many of these choices are guided by the artist's subconscious, even when working from direct observation. Likewise, results derived primarily from the subconscious influence the artist's internal collection of images and responses to the real world.
"Early Spring" was painted from direct observation as a symbolic interpretation of a vase of yellow tulips in front of a window framing winter outside.
"Early Spring" Medium: Oil / Canvas 36" x 36".
"Early Spring Unpainted" began from direct observation and was a fully realized representational painting. I allowed my mind's eye to reinterpret the composition by un-painting the highly rendered forms and reshaping the overall design to create a different visual experience.
"Early Spring - Unpainted" Medium: Oil / Canvas 36" x 36".
"Early Spring Cubed" Is drawn from my mind's stored images. I abandoned all direct observation of the external scene to create this painting. This process forced me to access these stored images and filter them through my aesthetics, thus reinventing the composition.
"Early Spring - Cubed" Medium: Oil / Canvas 36" x 36".
"Early Spring Espresso-ism" uses vibrant color and paint movement. The idea of winter versus spring in warm and cool colors. The objects are painted as symbolic representations and disregard the observed truth of the forms, lights and darks, and subtleties of color.
"Early Spring Espresso-ism" Medium: Oil / Canvas 36" x 36".
"Early Spring Yellow and Blue" comes primarily from the id/subconscious yet maintains some trace relationship to external stimuli and the mind's eye. This painting draws on my intuitive reaction to the idea of "Early Spring" versus the images that comprised the original still life. Moreover, yellow and blue assert the fundamental concept of early spring as warm and cool.
"Early Spring - Yellow & Blue" Medium: Oil / Canvas 36" x 36".