Thursday, May 9, 2013

Impressions of an Alaskan Glacier

About 15-miles south of Petersburg, depending on how you lay your ruler on the map, a notch cuts into the North American continent.  In Scandinavia it would be called a fjord.  Here it has been graced with the less romantic name, bay.  LeConte Bay is home to LeConte Glacier, the southernmost glacier in the northern hemisphere that negotiates the perils of global warming all the way to the sea.  LeConte Glacier and the fjord that leads an ocean traveler to it are a grand package -- like a kayak paddle through the history of earth -- a package which begins the moment your boat or kayak wends it’s way through house-sized ice bergs hung up on the old terminal glacial moraine at Camp Island and enter an inlet dominated by frozen sculptures.  The further in you go, the more recently the landscape has emerged from an icy burial. 

I love to paint the setting but usually seem to end up in a pretty realistic style with a couple of variations.  Being left brained in contrast to Karen’s right brain, I struggle to paint what I do not literally see -- at least until I reach that special moment when I can dump caution into the wastebasket of how things “should look.”  Sometimes that eureka moment comes and sticks around until dessert.  Sometimes it comes only to retreat into law and order as I gradually pull my subject back into a representational style in a struggle between the two halves of my brain.  I root for the right side, but my “favorite team” doesn’t always made it to the playoffs.

I made it to the playoffs with LeConte Impressions.  I laid down the basic shapes and then started playing with individual patterns within those shapes.  Repetition with variation became my mantra.  I turned flat shapes into rounded forms using shadow and highlights.   Letting go like this magnifies the anticipation I have each time I open the door to my studio.  Some friends really like the result.  Some ask in a concerned voice, have I abandoned my old style?

                             LeConte Impressions    18 x 24 inches    Alkyd on Canvas

A few months ago I saw an opportunity to submit paintings for the Alaska State Council on the Arts Alaska Contemporary Art Bank.   I gave it a shot and viola, “Le Conte Impressions” was honored -- one of 22 works of art selected from 901 entries.  Score one for my brain’s right side.