Time And Movement Series by Jean Pederson,
Artist and Honorary Member of Artistic Harmonies Association Inc.
January 31, 2022
Artistic Harmonies has asked me to share some thoughts on my recent work. Some ideas percolate for years before solidifying. The word harmony has meandered through my mind over the years—Pythagoras, sound waves, light waves providing our senses with color, harmonies of friendship, and so on. What a great title for this group which, I suspect, will inspire many.
The famous quantum physicist Max Planck was quoted as saying, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” I’ve had a self-imposed challenge to see my world in unique ways.
For several years, it was important for me to understand and render subjects as they appeared. The ability to draw and paint something that looked realistic provided a great deal of satisfaction, and I also received positive feedback from a variety of forums. Drawing has always been a foundation of my work, providing me with the aesthetics that suit my sensibility.
Three ideas became central to my studio practice.
- Know the strengths and weaknesses of my materials.
- Know my subject—allowing flexibility in interpretation of the subject.
- Know myself, the hardest part of my journey. Who am I, and what is it I want to share or communicate with the viewer? What do I want to say and how?
One art professor defined art as “the communication of ideas and visual form.” In various dictionaries, words like beauty, skill, and aesthetics were used to define art, but never was art thought of as an idea-based or critical thinking-based activity.
After a time, rendering exactly what I saw felt a little hollow. There was an intrinsic need to have meaningful content within my practice. Over time, my concepts have become stronger.
Letting go of past ideas of what art should be, I shifted toward what art could be.
I began reading articles and listening to quantum physics podcasts and became fascinated with all things quantum. I was never excited about math, but now math helped to explain the universe! Learning new ideas in the quantum realm became a playground and influenced my studio practice.
After dropping off paintings at a local public gallery for a group show, I literally stopped to smell the flowers. The flowering trees were buzzing with big, clumsy bumblebees. I became fascinated with how difficult it seemed for these creatures to move from one flower to the next, their purpose of gathering nectar. I must’ve watched the bees for over an hour. The path of the bees, the shape of their bodies as they move in the air, landing or traveling headfirst into the flowers, provided me with all kinds of inspiration.
A lot of artwork focuses on one snapshot in time, whether a landscape, still life, or a portrait. Having dipped my toe into quantum ideas and watching the bees as they moved constantly, I need to meld past work with a new way of seeing.
Reference paintings depict a subject in a static pose from one point of view, one expression. You cannot communicate the entire subject in one snapshot; there is a limit, a narrowness to what is communicated to the viewer.
Most portrait painters want to paint an aesthetically pleasing figure, choosing beautiful models with perfect lighting, rendering to the best of their ability. How much of the person holding the brush comes through in that perfect painting? What would it be like to paint a sick person, a sad, despondent person, or all the different emotions and feelings that one has in a day? The sitter is sharing only a sliver of a moment.
These ideas are not so new. Study the work of Francis Bacon to observe his distorted morphing portraits expressing similar ideas. The way I came to this point in my practice has been an authentic journey, an honest reflection of many parts of one.
Layering and overlapping have been a foundation in my work for many years, layers of paint obscuring, overlapping, scraping, allowing subsequent layers mingle with what already has been applied.
I have applied the idea of time and movement to several subjects. Current work is on a spectrum of referential imagery, so layered that the original subject becomes obscured through time and movement.
Some quantum scientists theorize that time is not linear, that there are many dimensions happening at one time. Interesting. Subjects in realism move, change, deteriorate. What if we could somehow express those changes in time and movement to imply time as nonlinear, as many things happening simultaneously?
The idea of expressing time and motion supports my shifting work, and I’m excited to see where ideas take my paintings.
Back to the bees. These creatures are so very important to our world and the success of plants and animals; the small bee provides life to all of us. Did you know that in one bee’s life, it will produce just a spoonful of honey? Just a spoonful of honey from many bees sustains the hive.
Artists can learn from the little bees; work hard, and support your neighbor. There is strength in the hive.
Jean Pederson, Artist and Honorary Member of Artistic Harmonies Association Inc.
© Jean Pederson – All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.