Early Spring Series
Ed Burke in Peekskill, NY studio
In this series of paintings, I have rendered the same subject matter from a succession of artistic viewpoints that progress from the representational to the abstract, thereby challenging the viewer to see the surrounding world through a variety of artistic lenses. Whereas the viewer may linger on one particular view that speaks most cogently to his or her sensibilities, it is my hope that the series as an ensemble will expand the viewer’s artistic horizon.
These paintings evolved from three sources: direct observation of the external world, the mind's eye, and the id/subconscious. Direct observation is the basis for most representational art. It is also the most easily understood, as it closely mirrors human visual experience. Art of the “mind’s eye”, on the other hand, distorts familiar visual images and reconstructs them in new ways, thereby requiring more intellectual involvement of the viewer. The most challenging for the viewer is the art of the “id/subconscious.” Unlike the first two art forms, it presents an unfamiliar visual experience using subconscious stimuli to produce aesthetic and emotional reactions to marks and forms on canvas. Whereas such renderings often have their genesis in real-world observations, they often evolve organically in the creative process and in their completion have little apparent similarity to the motivating observation.
In 2005 I completed a series of paintings, called "Early Spring, which was motivated by a tradition in our home. Each year, in late winter, my wife creates an arrangement of yellow tulips and places it in front of our living room window, thereby framing the outside winter gray with our interior “Early Spring.” The five paintings in this exposition interpret that scene utilizing the three levels of representation discussed earlier. Although I did not originally intend to paint a series, I began to see that the pieces formed a narrative of how I think and create, from the representational to the abstract.
Whereas many artists find their voice by first working across a creative range and then settling on a narrow segment to produce their primary work, my work will probably always span the range of figurative to abstract, as in this exhibition. The paintings in this folio are listed in order of creation
"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".