I believe art is successful when it can access at least one of our most prominent emotions. Art has the power to evoke joy, pleasure, a sense of infinite peace, or even a disturbance or sadness. When we gaze upon a particular piece of art, our brain tends to make subconscious connections to a memory, experience, or something else we can't quite put our finger on. All we can typically grasp is the emotion.
While I was staying in a small Pacific village in Guatemala in January 2018, I was lucky enough to meet this rad, world-traveled, experience-junkie triathlete from Arizona. She just so happened to be in search of the perfect painting, to capture what it was like to be at the top of a slope, in brisk solitude, overlooking the quickly descending sunset and radiating snow for as far as the eye could see. This place would be based loosely on her experiences in both Tibet and Colorado, but I had the creative freedom to run with it as I pleased, and I had all year to construct it.
I wanted this piece to grasp at a certain nostalgia, a memory shrouded in peace, serenity, and freedom. I've personally had experiences similar to this in my own travels. But I was creating a nostalgia for a place I had never been. I was creating a place that technically doesn't exist, except as a collaboration of her verbal memories, and my personal intangible ones.
I researched heavily, searching for reference images and creating many palette knife sketches to familiarize myself with this new subject. I had done landscapes, I had painted oceans, but not glaciers and snow. Secretly, this was a world I'd been searching for the excuse to dive into anyway. Living in beautiful coastal South Carolina, my world is flat marsh, wetlands and beach. (My dream home will one day be tucked away in mountains, where I can run all the trails I want. But then again, we always want what we don't have.)