Many artists working in both realism and abstraction explore ideas or emotions through the lens of unique or moving aspects of a particular place. This place may be as close as the artist’s own backyard, but it is often more distant.
At this time we are encountering many challenges in our daily lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including being unable to visit the places that motivate our creative processes. Nationwide “stay at home” orders are restricting our movement, but even in normal times we may still be unable to visit these places at will. Many of us have had travel opportunities, including artist residencies, that focus our attention and introduce new ideas while we are away, but the experience may seem inaccessible once we return home. How can we keep our connection to these places and allow our time there to keep influencing our work?
Memory is a great distiller of experience; working from memory can encompass visual imagery as well as emotions. Photos of special places may also be useful, but working in a literal way from photographs can be restrictive, leaving out emotions and subjective interpretations. But used as a point of departure, photos can trigger ideas. The same can be said for sketches, notes and objects we bring home. Sending time researching interesting aspects of where we have been can also being conceptual depth to our work with place.
As we continue to work while sequestered in our homes, remember that this too will pass. While we do need to reconnect physically from time to time with places that are important to us, there are many ways to nurture that connection and continue to work with what we love about these places from a distance.
Stay safe, everyone.