Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Hint of the Wild Places: Dimensions of Opulence and Mystery

A Hint of the Wild Places



The fullness and fertility of early summer are evident in every blossom and in this lush rose.

Above, green leaves frame this vibrant blossom beautifully, and hint at secret dimensions.

At the top, a Monarch perches on a sunlit wildflower. Nature is always beautiful in form, color and glowing light, even if the butterfly you want to capture won't cooperate by standing still!

Flowers are the sexual parts of plants, but they are more than that. New dimensions to explore, the intricate architecture of nature to revel in, symbols of the season of growth and fertility, the magic of color and scent in our universe. Perhaps most importantly, they play a significant role in the food chain.

Blossoms are full of that alluring mystery that gives us little shivers--the recognition of something miraculous going on in the process of nature's unfolding.

Here on Long Island, we've been blanketed by a dirty crust of ice and snow for a couple of weeks now, with unusually chilly temps and a cutting rawness to the air. So I wanted to do a post that would remind us all of spring!

All images and text c Lynda Lehmann. If you would like to view more of my art or make a purchase, please visit Lynda Lehmann Painting and Photography or my gallery at Imagekind, where you can choose from several sizes and paper types or buy my prints plain or matted and framed.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Horse is a Horse, Of Course, Of Course!

My husband and I "met" this lovely steed at a local historic event in rural Maine last summer. Scribner's Mill, to be exact, where local history and customs were being celebrated. Here, "Molly The Hungry Horse" takes time out for a late afternoon snack of hay. She was personable enough to give us a glance, even as we interrupted her meal. I'm taken by the shock of hair in her eyes, her long whiskers, and the morsels of hay protruding from her mouth. Cuteness aside, horses are beautiful and noble animals.

Unfortunately for me, those times in my life when I sat on top of one, were not too pleasant. I remember three experiences in particular. When I was about eight my father took me horseback riding. My steed was the only one who galloped down the steep hill at the end of the trail, straight for the lake! He turned so abruptly at the last minute, that I nearly flew into the water. I was speechless and so grateful to dismount, I probably didn't speak for the rest of the day!

Another time when I had paid for a horseback ride, they gave me a mule instead. I was a teenager and too embarrassed to protest. (Cute guys around, you know...) This stubborn critter walked me into every available low-hanging branch along our trail, so that I spent the entire time ducking and flailing. Now THAT was embarrassing, as were the scratches on my face!

The third time did me in. My husband and I were on our honeymoon, just a 3-day trip to Mount Airy Lodge in Pennsylvania, which we could barely afford in those years. A cold snap had the winter landscape in its icy vice-grip, but we opted for a horseback ride anyway. We needed to get away from the opulent meals and most of all, the chocolate desserts we had been over-consuming.
My horse didn't want to leave the stable and made that known early on, when he stubbornly circled instead of falling into the queue. I help my breath in the icy air as we entered the forest. My apparently fatigued and willful horse fell to his knees on the rocky and root-crossed path and rocked sideways, while I sat perched on his back, my mouth open and my heart jumping out of my chest. Not only was it minus three degrees that day, almost too cold to breathe, but I was SURE my marriage was going to be cut short by my untimely death upon the ice-encrusted rocks of a forest horse path.

Image and text c Lynda Lehmann.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Art and Power

Ancient History - Photo c Lynda Lehmann

Like most people, I'm fascinated by questions about the nature of life and our place in the cosmos. As a human being, I feel all the ageless and timeless doubts of the human condition. But there's one thing I know for certain: doing art lifts me above doubt and despair and gives me joy. Being involved in creative process has helped me to say "yes" to life. In my own creativity and in other's, as well, I see glimpses of something wonderful. It's what I like to think of as "the infinite potential of the universe." It manifests in all of us, especially when we create.

For me, the activity of creating art is an affirmation of life. Experiencing "the grand mystery" gives us a feeling of joy, based on the miracle of form and the complex web of life on our planet.

Night Rhythms - Photo c Lynda Lehmann

Here's a short article I wrote for my blog on Absolute Arts, that was later published at Creativity Portal and in a catalog for a large artist's exhibition in India. It addresses the idea of how art gives us power over ourselves.


I think most of us would agree that producing art gives us power. I see it as a power over ourselves, as opposed to power over what is outside of ourselves. It is a personal power over our own energy, perception, and motivational systems. And perhaps more important, the making of art helps us transcend the need to achieve a social equilibrium (which in my opinion, is rarely possible anyway). Instead, we are involved in a process by which we may achieve a degree of harmony within ourselves, in relation to the universe. In the dynamic state of being committed to a creative process, we do not need to steal anyone's energy, or let them steal energy from us.

The truth wears six billion faces, each with different life circumstances, a different life script, and a different mode of emotional being. For me, doing art takes me to a place from which I can accept all scripts and embrace the subjective and relative nature of truth. (This is not to imply that morality is relative, however, because murder and extortion are always wrong, no matter whose script dictates it.)

Because my own script, when involved in creative process, is so engaging to me, always varied and full of mystery, it teaches me both tolerance and hope. The bounty of creative options available to me, gives me confidence in the infinite potential of the universe, for hope, harmony, and healing. In short, it gives me joy.

I have heard it said that artists, in doing art, are participating in a God-like creation process, and indeed it is true. While we are by no means transmuted into gods by making art, we at least become his humble hand-maidens. We see glimpses of beauty and wonder in places where other people may fail to look, unearthing it at every turn. We see new relationships, both visual and metaphoric, sociological and scientific. It becomes easier for us to step back or undercut the tendency to power struggles, that so often consumes people. (The last thing we need in this weary world is more conflict, personal or generalized, to spew hatred around the globe!)

I have heard it said, also, that we artists make art in order to find love and to be loved. I think the apex of this is that in the tender connections we make to the universe, we find some degree of self-love. I think this is a balanced form of self-love that perceives the relative and tenuous nature of things, including the subjective nature of our own lives. Therefore, in my opinion, it is a mature self-love, not to be confused with narcissism.

All text © 2006 Lynda Lehmann

NOTE: This is a repeat of my April 26, 2007 post, which was the first post I ever made! Since I had one comment (and probably one reader) for that first post, I thought I would share it again! "Art and Power" was originally an article I wrote for Creativity Portal a few months earlier. It was also published in India.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Electric Landscape

Electric Landscape - c 2009 Lynda Lehmann

I keep trying to paint something "quiet" but my love for color takes over and I end up with bright, saturated hues. I'm addicted to color! And this painting has the intensity and movement that seems to characterize my work. I wonder if I'll ever do something subtle? lol....

It's a bright Abstract Expressionist painting with active, biomorphic forms, 18 x 24 inches on gallery-wrapped canvas. I don't know how many of my customers or potential customers read my blog. But if they don't read this post, they won't know that I started out to be subtle! As you know, the process takes over, the painting takes on an life of its own, and eventually, it "tells" you what it wants to be!


My painting "Damariscotta Dream," seen here, has just been used on the cover of a poetry chapbook published by Dream Horse Press. Thank you to Dream Horse Press and Charles Sweetman for using it! (No, I'm NOT using the book for a mouse!)

All images and text c Lynda Lehmann. If you would like to view more of my art or make a purchase, please visit Lynda Lehmann Painting and Photography or my gallery at Imagekind, where you can choose from several sizes and paper types or buy my prints plain or matted and framed.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Colliding Orbs," My New Abstract Expressionist Painting

This is my latest acrylic painting. It's 24 x 36 inches, and titled "Colliding Orbs." I was going to call it "A Stitch in Time" because it reminded me of agitated clocks and a vision of time run amuck, which might have been a more fitting title when considering the chaos in our world. What do you think?

When I paint, I'm after the physical, kinesthetic experience of moving around a surface and applying pigment to it, and watching what evolves. It's like a mad dance or ritual color-celebration, in which I pursue a new visual experience. I'm not trying to replicate anything from our everyday world, but rather, to immerse myself in a novel sensory experience that will yield an equally unpredictable product with its own life and totality. It's this evolving and dynamic process of finding color, composition, and form in new arrangements, that gives me excitement and makes my days interesting.

Wikipedia defines Abstract Expressionism as:

Abstract expressionism was an American post–World War II art movement. It was the first specifically American movement to achieve worldwide influence and also the one that put New York City at the center of the art world, a role formerly filled by Paris. Although the term "abstract expressionism" was first applied to American art in 1946 by the art critic Robert Coates, it had been first used in Germany in 1919 in the magazine Der Sturm, regarding German Expressionism. In the USA, Alfred Barr was the first to use this term in 1929 in relation to works by Wassily Kandinsky.[1]

Technically, an important predecessor is
surrealism, with its emphasis on spontaneous, automatic or subconscious creation. Jackson Pollock's dripping paint onto a canvas laid on the floor is a technique that has its roots in the work of Max Ernst. Another important early manifestation of what came to be abstract expressionism is the work of American Northwest artist Mark Tobey, especially his "white writing" canvases, which, though generally not large in scale, anticipate the "all over" look of Pollock's drip paintings.

The movement's name is derived from the combination of the emotional intensity and self-denial of the German Expressionists with the anti-figurative aesthetic of the European abstract schools such as Futurism, the Bauhaus and Synthetic Cubism. Additionally, it has an image of being rebellious, anarchic, highly idiosyncratic and, some feel, rather nihilistic.[2] In practice, the term is applied to any number of artists working (mostly) in New York who had quite different styles, and even applied to work which is not especially abstract nor expressionist. Pollock's energetic "action paintings", with their "busy" feel are different, both technically and aesthetically, to the violent and grotesque Women series of Willem de Kooning (which are figurative paintings) and to the rectangles of color in Mark Rothko's Color Field paintings (which is not what would usually be called expressionist and which Rothko denied was abstract), yet all three are classified as abstract expressionists.

Abstract expressionism has many stylistic similarities to the Russian artists of the early twentieth century such as
Wassily Kandinsky. Although it is true that spontaneity or the impression of spontaneity characterized many of the abstract expressionists works, most of these paintings involved careful planning, especially since their large size demanded it. With artists like Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Emma Kunz, and later on Rothko, Barnett Newman and Agnes Martin, abstract art clearly implied expression of ideas concerning the spiritual, the unconscious and the mind.[3]

I'm one of those people who finds fascination in the spiritual and subconscious aspects of art-making. I paint for the love of it, and I try to leave the critical adult behind me in favor of joy. For me, the joy of painting evokes the childhood happiness of free expression, exploration, and spontaneity. It provides the stimulation and excitement of a unique experience. In this case, THE VISUAL EXPERIENCE. I have capitalized this phrase because it so succinctly defines my goal and describes the gratification I feel in the process of putting pigment on canvas.

How do you feel about Abstract Expressionism or about abstract art in general? Does it excite your eye and resonate for you? Who are your favorite artists, abstract or otherwise?

Detail of "Colliding Orbs - Image c Lynda Lehmann

Image and text c Lynda Lehmann. If you would like to view more of my art or make a purchase, please visit Lynda Lehmann Painting and Photography or my gallery at Imagekind, where you can choose from several sizes and paper types or buy my prints plain or matted and framed. >

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